Celebrate sensibly, says Pinal County emergency manager

Richard Urban

David McNew/Newsmakers (Getty Images)

By Richard Urban / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ

As we head into the Independence Day weekend, the state Department of Forestry and Fire Management asks that you remember that there is no wildfire season in Arizona anymore. Every day is fire season.

And while Pinal County has seen some scattered monsoon rains over the last few days, the desert remains extremely dry and flammable, Pinal County Emergency Manager Chuck Kmet warned.

“All the fire restrictions that the state and federal agencies have put in place still remain in place,” Kmet said. “Even though we have some of this monsoon moisture that's out there, there still is a potential for a nasty wildfire to kick up and take off.”

The state Department of Forestry and Fire Management issued fire restrictions for state lands in Pinal County and across Arizona, and the federal Bureau of Land Management imposed similar restrictions in Arizona’s national parks.

In general, campfires and smoking are prohibited on public lands. Firearms discharges are limited to lawful hunting. Fireworks and tracer ammunition are prohibited year-round.

Even where fireworks are permitted, Kmet urges people to be careful. “It doesn't matter what type of firework it is; all of those fireworks have a hazard of starting a fire,” he said.

Kmet offers these additional precautions:

· Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and remember that alcohol is a diuretic that can cause dehydration. Health professionals advise drinking plenty of water between alcoholic beverages.

· Especially during monsoon season, pay attention to Weather Service warnings when storms pop up, so you are not stuck out in the open in a lightning storm.

· Make sure if you’re on an ATV that it is in good condition and fueled up before going out; you do not want to be stranded.

· Be aware that with monsoon rains, flooding is possible, and the first few storms that hit an area can make floodwaters even more hazardous by flushing debris into washes, adding to the danger.

To keep up with the latest fire information and tips, you can follow the Department of Forestry and Fire Management on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or download its free mobile phone app by searching for The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management in iTunes or Google Play stores.

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Richard is an award-winning journalist with more than 40 years experience in newspaper and magazine publishing. He has covered topics that include local and state government and politics, courts and crime, environment, business and innovation.

Phoenix, AZ

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