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May 15, 2013 11:58 AM by Sean Mooney

Tucson Fire braces for urban wildfires this summer

Forty percent of the fires happen in washes rich with Bufflegrass. When ignited, it acts like a fire Even though it is that time of year the U.S Forrest Service how bad the fire season will be. But here in tucson local agencies are gearing up to battle hundreds of urban fires that pop up every year.

The Tucson Fire Department reports that there are between twelve and fourteen hundred urban fires within Tucson's city limits every year. The vast majority of those calls come during wildfire season, and right now all the ingredients are in place for a blazing summer. According to Coronado National Forrest spokesperson, Heidi Schewel, the on-going drought, triple digit temperatures and plenty of fuel are making for a prime season for fires, "We have a big buildup of fine fuels, the grasses and brush, which can ignite really quickly, said Schewel, "they've already shown us that they are flammable already, we're not even to the hot part of the year yet or the dry part of the year."

The U.S. Forrest Service says the cause of wildfires is about fifty fifty between nature and man. That is not the case with urban fires where the majority are set by people.

Tucson Fire Captain Patricia Brescia, says with brushfires burning in the city they are often close to homes, creating a very dangerous situation. "When its really windy these fires get up and going and they jump across the washes and alleys", said Brescia, "they can get into your house, up into the roofs and possibly set your house on fire."

Forty percent of the fires happen in washes rich with bufflegrass. When ignited it acts like a fire carpet, spreading quickly and covering wide areas, very often in difficult places for firefighters to reach. "We don't have hydrants, so we have to shuttle water back and forth and its hard to get to the areas", said Bescia, "there are berms, there are washes we can't get to, bridges in the way, so some of the brush is out of the way and it is hard to get too.

Tucson fire departments bring on additional equipment to fight urban fires, including brush trucks, for getting in to hard to reach areas, longer hoses and firefighters even wear special gear that is easier to move around in out in the field.

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