The West’s 2012 wildfire season exploded in earnest last month with a wind-whipped blaze that killed three people in rugged alpine canyon country near Denver. It took a 700-strong federal firefighting team a week of labor, day and night, to tame the blaze, and other states throughout the West took notice.
Fire experts say this year’s drought, low snowpack and record-high temperatures in much of the West portend a dangerous installment of what has become a year-round wildfire threat.
Wildfires burned more than 1,500 square miles in Arizona last year and have already torched about 12 square miles this year. Most were caused by people, and fire officials hope the public has learned some lessons from the Wallow Fire, the worst in state history. Campfire embers ignited a blaze that forced nearly 10,000 people to evacuate their homes.
New Mexico, too, experienced its two biggest-ever wildfires in 2011, consuming 245 and 160 square miles, respectively. “We are approaching this as a season where we still have very high fire danger and there are millions of acres around New Mexico that could burn,” said Dan Ware, a New Mexico State Forestry Division spokesman.
From The Sacramento Bee: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/12/4409845/western-states-prepare-for-dangerous.html