The inevitable and encroaching summer heat will only add to the prime fire conditions that already exist throughout the valley and beyond thanks to increased winter rainfall.

It’s a double-edged sword. While any rainfall is welcomed in the desert, the end result is an increase in dried fire fuel in the summer, sparking potential for danger with as little as a cigarette flick.

It’s fire season, and by all accounts, this year’s may be a doozy. That’s what state fire officials and Gov. Doug Ducey intimated when discussing recently the outlook on the current fire season.

As temperatures soar and relative humidity levels decrease, a sudden lightning spark once monsoon thunderstorms roll in can quickly ignite what is sure to be a tinder box of dry brush and fuel. Add to that variable the prevailing summer winds and you could have a recipe for disaster. One need not look long to see conditions are already primed for fire consumption with charred areas along Interstate 10 between Benson and Mescal serving as proof positive.

Authorities received multiple reports Monday morning of brush fires on the north side of State Route 80 between mileposts 313-309 east of Benson near Tombstone. That resulted in responses from Whetstone Fire Dept., Arizona Dept. of Public Safety, Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and the Tombstone Marshal’s Office.

With conditions only expected to intensify, a proactive response on the part of homeowners can make all the difference.

As temperatures soar and relative humidity levels decrease, a sudden lightning spark once monsoon thunderstorms roll in can quickly ignite what is sure to be a tinder box of dry brush. Add to that variable the prevailing summer winds and you have a recipe for disaster. One need not look long to see conditions are already primed for fire consumption with charred areas along Interstate 10 between Benson and Mescal serving as proof positive, and those incidents are expected to increase as we delve further into the season.

We queried Benson Fire Chief Keith Spangler on the state of the current fire season.

NS: What are conditions like now?

Spangler: “With the wet winter we have had there is more potential for fire in the light flashy fuels such as grass and small weeds. Once it starts to heat up and the summer winds start it will become more of a hazard.”

NS: Will there be or is anything in the works with BFD prescribed burn wise to mitigate conditions?

Spangler: “We do not have any prescribed burns planned. The Fire Department wants to ask the public to be careful when using open flames of any kind.”

NS: Are there any fire restrictions in place and are any anticipated as we head deeper into the season?

Spangler: “No restrictions yet but possibly no open burning as it heats up.”

NS: What should people do to minimize fire danger?

Spangler: “Home owners should keep a clear space around their property to keep fire from getting up next to the structures.”

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