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Act early to keep homes safe before fire season arrives
Written by Christopher Fox Graham   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 12:16

We had almost forgotten the smell of rain.Managing Editor Christopher Fox Graham

After more than a month without a drip, the Verde Valley received a downpour on March 1 and 2.

All the heavy rain was pleasant, but forecasters are expecting a drier than usual year. In most other parts of the country, a dry year isn’t such a bad thing, but for cities and towns in Northern Arizona, a dry year means the risk for wildfire increases to dangerously high levels.

While the cool weather and cloud cover doesn’t put the Verde Valley at risk in March, and we do expect plenty of rain and possibly one freak late snow on Mingus Mountain and parts of the Verde Valley in March and April, the skies will be blue for most of the late spring. High temperatures and dry landscapes mean a lightning strike, abandoned campfire or littered cigarette butt could spell a major threat to our homes.

The La Barranca and Brins fires were only eight years ago, but we residents quickly forget how threatening the fire was to parts of the Verde Valley. Brins Fire burned for 10 days, charring Brins Mesa, Wilson Mountain and Oak Creek Canyon, damage which can still be seen if you look to the top of Wilson Mountain or drive in Oak Creek Canyon. Three years ago, the Wallow Fire struck in rural eastern Arizona and spread into the largest fire ever in the state. Hundreds of firefighters, including many of our own, spent weeks battling the blaze.

Last year, one run-of-the-mill wildfire overtook the position of a Hot Shot wildland firefighter team and 19 men of the Granite Mountain Hotshots died, making the Yarnell Hill Fire the deadliest in Arizona history.
The fires are coming to Arizona. They might strike near us this year. Residents should take the time now to clear a defensible space around their homes.

During the Brins Fire, I spent hours on the roof of a commandeered Uptown Sedona home with a Hot Shot crew from Prescott as firefighters strategized which homes they could save and which were lost causes if the fire broke through the frontline that air crews fought on Brins Mesa’s edge. Decisions were due entirely to which homes had cleared enough space around their property to be worth the time and effort to save.

Don’t let your home be among those firefighters can’t save if a wildfire threatens it. Contact the Camp Verde Fire District now and have your home evaluated. The fire marshal can advise you what changes to your landscaping and brush will keep your home safe. There is still plenty of time to make small changes that could keep your home safe and standing.

 

Verde Valley Weather

Fair

85°F

Cottonwood, AZ

Fair
Wednesday
Mostly sunny
71°F / 101°F
Thursday
Partly cloudy
70°F / 101°F
Friday
Isolated thunderstorms
71°F / 96°F

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