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July 4 fireworks pose wildfire danger, Arizona officials warn

As fire danger remains high across the state, with more than half a million acres burned this year, Arizona officials warn that fireworks could spark even more blazes and urge people to pick different ways to celebrate the Fourth of July.

This year, environmental conditions in the Sonoran Desert mean wildfires can easily ignite and spread. More than half of Arizona falls under exceptional drought status, and much of the vegetation across the region is more dry than normal, making it easier for fires to start.

"The live-fuel moistures and dead-fuel moistures are at historic lows so everything is receptive to any kind of spark," said Eric Huddleston, battalion chief for the Department of Forestry and Fire Management's Tucson District.

July 4 is infamous for wildfire ignition, largely due to fireworks. Between 1992 and 2015, more U.S. wildfires were kindled on July 4 than during any other single day, according to a study.

In 2021, fireworks have already caused numerous wildfires across the American West, including the 260-acre Stage Fire near New River, Ariz.

"Fireworks have proven to be an ignition source for fires on our lands and what we are asking is that the public understand the threat, make good choices, and if possible, partake in alternative Fourth of July activities," DFFM Prevention Officer Aaron Casem said in a press release.

Around 526,000 acres have burned in Arizona this year — more than 15 times the acreage burned in California thus far in 2021. The Telegraph Fire in central Arizona has burned more than 180,000 acres over the past month.

Currently, all state trust land in Arizona is closed to the public. Tucson falls under Stage II Fire Restrictions.

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24 comments
Jul 2, 2021, 3:41 pm
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Well.  Looks like the inch of rain (or more) we just got from the severe thunderstorm across north Tucson and the foothills just put paid to that problem.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

The 2015 Finger Rock Fire, seen burning in the Catalinas from Downtown Tucson, nearly 10 miles away. Tucson High School, the University of Arizona and Banner-University Medical Center are seen in the foreground.