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May 15, 2014 7:16 PM by John Patrick

Rio Rico Fire District ready to respond

RIO RICO, Ariz. - Rio Rico Fire District is next to get the call to action for what is already a busy wildfire season.

Arizona has already had more than 400 wildfires reported so far this year. The Southwest is now at a wildfire preparedness level three meaning 50% of crews are committed to fires.

According to firefighter James Sheldon, Rio Rico Fire District is next on the list of agencies in Southern Arizona to respond to wildfire activity.

"All we're waiting on is a call out. Once we're called out we've got about an hour to get ready and get out the door," explains Sheldon.

That call may come very soon, with 2014 already nearly twice as active as last year. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 2013 had 12,641 wildfires nationwide through the start of May. This year we have already had 22,232 fires scorch almost 500,000 acres.

"It seems like the more I go out the more intense it gets. The more growth we have that hasn't been burned the more critical the fire season," says Sheldon.

With the severe drought rating across Arizona increasing 15% from just last week the region is now under above normal fire potential.

The next fire that sparks up could be the one Rio Rico Fire District spends up to three weeks fighting but this is something firefighter Corey Pangrack says they'll be ready for.

"Right now I have my two week bag and all my wildland gear in the car. It goes with me where ever I go," explains Pangrack.

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