All it takes is one spark.
That was the admonition on Tuesday from state and county fire officials who warned that because of dry conditions, “just about anything” can ignite a raging blaze on a roadway, field or someone’s backyard.
And no one should let their guard down just because it’s rained a little.
“We have not had any significant moisture as of yet,” said Paul Cimino, fire marshall with the Sierra Vista Fire Department.
While the monsoons have begun, they haven’t dumped enough rain yet to alleviate scorching conditions.
Because of that, anything from a cigarette flicked through a car window, to dragging chains behind a vehicle, can ignite an inferno, fire officials said.
Additionally, the upcoming Fourth of July festivities, usually rife with barbecuing and fireworks, are obvious perils, Cimino and others warned.
“Any open flames are potential threats for fires,” Cimino said.
While the wildfire season typically begins in March, according to Cimino, this year it was delayed by a colder than usual winter that included precipitation, said Heidi Schewel, spokeswoman for the Coronado National Forest.
But it’s in full swing now, Schewel said, and there have been fires ignited by lightning, as well as humans.
“All it takes is a spark to start a wildfire,” Schewel said.
Cimino said the environment and the weather should guide anyone planning any outdoor activity such as a barbecue or fireworks.
Schewel particularly cautioned anyone planning campfires on hikes, or otherwise.
“Take plenty of water,” she said. “Drown, stir and repeat until it’s [the campfire] is literally cold,”
Disaster can strike even with just a few embers.
“If it’s dry, you’re going to get a wildfire,” she added.
As in years past, there is currently a ban on controlled burns, said Cimino and Mark Savage, fire chief of the Fry Fire District. An alternative to that offered by the city is green waste pickup. He said it involves cutting, bundling and bagging vegetation and contacting the city’s public works division for pickup. The refuse is then taken to compost.
Fire officials are asking that residents please refrain from controlled burns for another month or so until the monsoons get heavier, Savage said.
He mentioned that dry lightning, which strikes when there’s no rain, has sparked fires in the mountains. Savage also said road fires have become more prevalent.
But even when the monsoons do begin to douse the desert, people still need to be vigilant when it comes to any activities that involve fire.
“We’re in the desert,” Cimino said. “I don’t know if we’re ever out of the fire season.”