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PHOENIX -- Just seven months after the deadliest wildfire in Arizona history, the Kaibab National Forest will begin signing up summer firefighters Friday.

The forest will be hiring firefighters, lookouts and helitack crews. Sign-ups will be held over the next two weeks.

The Arizona Wildfire Academy in Prescott gets underway in March and the deaths of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots last summer in Yarnell loss doesn't appear to be impacting interest.

"I believe people are still motivated to come out and become firefighters and do the job," Academy Commander Tony Sciacca said.

Firefighters will be in demand. Sciacca heads up an elite Type 1 Incident Management team that battles the worst of the worst when it comes to wildfires across the west.

He said he's concerned about the state's upcoming fire season after seeing January wildfires blazing in California. Outside of a wet November, Mother Nature has not delivered for Arizona.

"When we get this late in the season, even if we get the snow and the rain, it doesn't have enough time to soak in and I expect an average to above-average season if the drought continues," Sciacca said.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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