March 31 – April 4, 2014 is Arizona Wildfire Awareness Week.
2013 was a devastating year for destruction and loss of life from wildfires. Because of the enduring drought conditions and large volumes of fuel for wildfires, 2014 could be even worse. Already, two wildfires are occurring near Flagstaff and Prescott. For current warnings and fire information, go to the Arizona Interagency Wildfire Prevention web site (click on link).
This is a reminder to plan ahead for the possible impacts wildfires can have on your family, your property and your animals. There are several questions to ask at this time. Where would I go if a wildfire were approaching my home? Do I have what I need to move my animals out of danger? Who could I ask for help? Guidelines for developing your own wildfire emergency plan can be found on the Ready!Set!Go! web site sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Livestock are also at risk during wildfire season. During the 2011 Arizona wildfire season, 18,000 beef cows and calves were displaced from grazing grounds on the range. In 2012, several states reported hundreds of cattle killed in wildfires. Wildfires can damage the grazing areas requiring ranchers to find feeding alternatives or sell off their herd.
Stay aware throughout the wildfire season. Emergency information can be found at the AZ Emergency Information Network. Or you can receive daily updates on conditions and warnings around Arizona by subscribing to the WildlandfireAZ twitter feed (https://twitter.com/wildlandfireAZ).
County evacuation plans should include resources to help move pets, horses and livestock. Evacuation delays can make the firefighters’ work even more difficult. For assistance in identifying emergency animal response teams in your community, contact the State Veterinarian’s office at 602-542-4293.