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Updated Apr 10, 2014 - 1:54 pm

Arizona officials turn to residents to aid fire-season efforts

PHOENIX -- Temperatures in Arizona's high country will be 10 to 15 degrees above normal and fire danger is expected to be boosted to "high" by Friday.

It has been a weak winter for places such as Flagstaff, which received only about 30 percent of the typical average precipitation. The timber areas did get some recent rain and snowfall but climatologist Randy Cerveny of Arizona State University said it may be too little, too late.

"It fueled more brush and grass growth and they will dry out and become very brittle. All it takes is one match or one bolt of lightning and you have a forest fire," Cerveny said.

There are no campfire or smoking restrictions in the state's national forests but that is expected to change sooner rather than later.

High-country homeowners have a vested interest in the upcoming wildfire season and they're being called into the fight to add support.

Flagstaff Police Sgt. Cory Runge said residents will get a one-hour crash course on spotting wildfire activity Friday night. "Woods Watch" training will take place at at the Law Enforcement Administration Facility located at 911 E. Sawmill Road at 6 p.m. The Coconino County Sheriff's Office, Flagstaff Police and U.S. Forest Service will participate.

"This is a program we developed to patrol our forests," Runge said. "People will look for abandoned campfires and campfires that are being lit in restricted areas. They will contact us and we will investigate."

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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