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Fire captain: San Diego County-type wildfires unlikely in metro Phoenix

A structure burns during a wildfire Thursday, May 15, 2014, in Escondido, Calif. One of the nine fires burning in San Diego County suddenly flared Thursday afternoon and burned close to homes, trigging thousands of new evacuation orders. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

PHOENIX -- As 10 wildfires burn in southern California, destroying homes and forcing thousands to evacuate, the Phoenix Fire Department wants to remind Valley residents to be smart and avoid causing potential fires.

While all of Arizona is under a severe fire warning and heavily wooded areas -- such as those in northern parts of the state -- are at high risks for wildfires, Phoenix Fire Department Cpt. Tony Mure said it is not impossible for fires to spread quickly in the greater Phoenix region.

"In the Phoenix metro area, surprisingly even with all the concrete and asphalt and everything that we have here, we do see a spike in brush fires and debris fires," he said. "We have a lot of dead grass, and weeds and debris that are in alleyways or vacant lots that do spread to wooden fences and to homes."

However, Mure said having a fire burn through the Valley, spreading from neighborhood to neighborhood like in southern California, is not as likely.

"I don't think we're going to have these large winds where we're losing multiple houses at time -- with acres, and acres and acres on fire," Mure said. "But we definitely have a fire danger."

Towns and communities on the fringe of the Valley might be at the highest risk, Mure said.

"If a fire were to break out ... these fires, even though they may be short, 2- or 3-feet high in grass, can spread quickly and come up to the backside of a neighborhood," he said. "Those houses that have the fenced-in area, or maybe the rod fence area to look out on the desert terrain, those fires can spread into your yard and get to your house."

Mure said it's important to be smart and remember some simple fire safety tips.

"Always have a fire extinguisher with you. And make sure you keep everything that is green, (or) that is dead or is dying, please remove that to help reduce the fire risk to your personal property and to your neighbors," he said.

About the Author

A southern California native, Mark Remillard began working in radio in 2010 while in community college as a host of late night and weekend programming for publicly supported 88.5 FM KSBR. While working through college, Mark also interned for the Bill Handel Radio Program at Los Angeles' KFI AM640, where he began his work in journalism. Mark moved to Arizona in August 2012 to finish his bachelor's degree at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and graduated in August 2014. Mark began working as a reporter for KTAR in November 2012.


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