It’s May, but fire season isn’t here.
That’s because we no longer have a fire season in Southeast Arizona, said Sonoita Elgin Fire District (SEFD) Chief Marc Meredith. “Year-round is the new reality for wildland fires, both human and natural caused,” he explained. “So far in 2023, SEFD has responded to 21 wildfires, with 700 acres burned. So, we have a shifting mindset. Any month of the year can hold a fire threat. Anything flammable will burn.”
The good news is that our community as a whole has more properties that are “firewise” – that is, having your home (or business) and landscape prepared in specific ways against wildfire – than not.
A good example of how being firewise makes a difference is the recent fire on Camino del Corral in Elgin, said Chief Meredith. “There was some work being done on a windy day, and there was an accident,” he said. “An electrical short started a wildland fire, which was fairly quickly contained and put out because the property and the neighboring property where the fire spread both had grass cut short. Having short grass – a ‘firewise’ principle – makes it much easier to defend property.”
Residents also need to be aware of the dangers of mowing and welding. Sparks can quickly set fire to dry grasses. When towing a trailer, make sure chains are not dragging, as they can create sparks if they strike the road. Cigarettes thrown out car windows have also started fires.
Property owners in Sonoita and Elgin can always contact the SEFD station at 520-455-5854 to make arrangements to have their property’s wildfire readiness evaluated by SEFD personnel. This is a free service.
Also, Chief Meredith has referred several people to Mike and Dan McGuire of Fire Prevention Specialists. They, too, offer free assessments and can be reached at firepreventionspecialists.com and 520-604-2108. Their company uses goats to clear brush, along with other specialized equipment.
More information about the Firewise USA program is available online at firewise.org