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May 17, 2012 9:41 PM

Wildfire preparations underway in parts of Pima County

TUCSON - Wildfire season is underway and heavy winds are already causing major concern in parts of Pima and Santa Cruz County. The intense heat and wind upon us this week has the Sonoita -Elgin Fire Department alerting residents to be on the lookout.

Don McReynolds, who has lived in Sonoita for almost 30 years, says last years Cienega Fire came too close for comfort.

He said flames spread his house at an alarming rate. Some of them "6 feet tall."

His wife Barbara said the sight prompted them to leave their house immediately.

"I jumped in the car and drove out. There was no time to save anything. It just happened so fast."

Their house made it through the fire, but pictures they have show just how devastating the aftermath was.

Sonoita-Elgin Fire Department says even though last years fire burned a large portion of grassland, the monsoon rains have brought it all back. Replacing the fuel needed to get a fire started.

Fire Chief Joseph DeWolf, says he's noticed an alarming trend.

"Over the last few years the fires have been growing larger due to the grasslands fueling them."

With this in mind, they've already called in extra crews and volunteers.

"We're sitting on pins and needles. The wind is a major concern in the coming days," Chief DeWolf continued.

He's also warning residents to mow their lawns 30 to 100 feet from their home, trim their trees and clean underneath their decks. He said doing so will help keep the fire on the ground, and stop it from spreading.

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