USFS: Dry, warm winter could spark early fire season - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

USFS: Dry, warm winter could spark early fire season

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Wildfire season may be getting an early start in Southern Arizona. A dry winter and warm weather are making the conditions right, according to U.S. Forest Service officials.

Forest officials say summer monsoons produced a lot of grass that is now dry and extremely flammable, but the problem does not stop there.

In the past two weeks, forest firefighters have already battled one fire in the Coronado National Forest.

With almost no rain and very little snow this winter, in addition to high than normal temperatures, forest firefighters are already on standby ready to go if necessary.

This early in the year forest firefighters not only have to watch for blazes at lower elevation areas where there is dry grass and brush, but  Heidi Schewel a public affairs officer with the U.S. Forest Service, said the risk of a fire sparking in higher elevated areas is just as dangerous because the lack of snow this season.

"Just because it's February and it's suppose to be winter, we don't want people to get a false sense of security because a fire could start. All it needs is an ignition." Schewel said Tuesday. "At any elevation, we tell people please be careful with your campfires, do not leave a campfire unattended for any amount of time for any reason. It's not worth the risk."

Currently, USFS does not have any fire restrictions in place, but officials say if the situation gets severe enough, they could have to close the Coronado National Forest to prevent fires.

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