Arizona wildfires raise concern for community safety

Published on May 14, 2012

Firewise tips help Arizona residents reduce their homes’ risk from wildfire

May 14, 2012 – Now at the height of wildfire season (March to June), Arizona is battling several brush, grass and forest fires, including the Gladiator and Sunflower Fires, which continue to threaten communities in Yavapai County, north and west of Phoenix, and to the east in Tonto National Forest. The fires have burned roughly 2,700 acres and have prompted evacuation orders around Crown King, near Prescott.

In 2011, Arizona experienced its worst year for wildfires with nearly 2,000 fires that scorched more than one million acres across the state. June 2011 will particularly be remembered for two of the largest wildfires in the state’s history: the Wallow Fire, which burned more than 522,000 acres and displaced 10,000 people, and the Monument Fire, in the southern part of the state, which saw over 30,000 acres scorched and more than 70 homes and businesses destroyed.

But many Arizona residents have already taken steps to reduce their wildfire risk.  Using proven principles for wildfire safety, 44 Arizona communities have participated for several years in the national Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program, which emphasizes community involvement and helps residents learn how to do their part to keep their homes and property safer from wildfire.

In addition to the many participating communities in Yavapai County, including Timber Ridge near Prescott, one of the first neighborhoods in the nation to be recognized as a Firewise community, Arizona’s commitment to local wildfire safety stretches from Continental near Flagstaff, all the way south to Patagonia. A list of all Arizona Firewise-recognized sites can be found on the Firewise website.

The Firewise program provides a number of resources to help residents get started on wildfire safety mitigation activities. Complimentary brochures, booklets, pamphlets, videos and much more can be found on the website and ordered online through the Firewise catalog.

Wildfire doesn’t have to burn everything in its path. In fact, cleaning your property of debris and maintaining your landscaping are important first steps. Below are additional actions you can take to reduce the risk of your home and property becoming fuel for a wildfire:

  • Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
  • Create a “fire-free” area within five feet of the home, using non-flammable landscaping materials such as rocks, pavers and/or high-moisture content annuals and perennials.
  • Remove dead vegetation from under your deck and within 10 feet of the house.
  • Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, propane tanks, dry vegetation) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it touch your house, deck or porch.
  • If you have trees on your property, prune so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
  • Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
  • When planting, choose slow-growing, carefully placed shrubs and trees so the area can be more easily maintained.
  • Landscape with native and less-flammable plants. Your state forestry agency or county extension office can provide plant information. Firewise landscaping and plants list are also available on the Firewise website.
  • Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.

Learn more about how to keep your family safe and reduce your home’s risk for wildfire damage at

About Firewise
The Firewise Communities Program encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters and others in creating fire-adapted communities – places where people and property are safer from the risk of brush, grass and forest fires. Firewise is a program of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the US Department of the Interior and the National Association of State Foresters.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

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Media Contact: Lorraine Carli:, +1 617 984-7275

Editor’s Note: Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program Manager, is available for interviews. Please contact the Public Affairs office to make arrangements.