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U.S. sees big drop in acreage burned by wildfires

PHOENIX -- In 2013, wildfires burned less than half the acreage they burned in 2012 across the nation.

"In some cases it is as simple as we didn't get a start that we couldn't rapidly get to," said Clay Templin, head of an elite Tonto National Forest incident management team on why less acreage was burned.

While Templin's team helped contain some of the largest fires in the country, including the Yarnell Hill Fire that claimed the lives of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots, he gave credit to the public for sparking fewer blazes.

"People are paying closer attention to the conditions and helping us out," he said, adding that about 10,000 less fires were reported in 2013 than 2012.

Templin sayid the severity of 2014's wildfires depends on conditions this winter.

"If the drought continues and we have a weak winter with little rain and snowfall, we could certainly be back into another bad situation next year," he said.

It cost the United States about $2 billion dollars to fight fires in 2012. The costs for 2013 have not been finalized but Templin said the cost will top $1 billion.

About the Author

Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.


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