By Karen Osburn, Assistant City Manager
Sedona AZ (March 28, 2017) – Spring is here, summer is not far away, and Arizona is preparing for a challenging fire season because of a winter with very little rain.
State and national fire experts say winds, prolonged drought and high temperatures have combined to make Arizona’s forests and desert areas extremely dry this year. Long term drought, changing fuel conditions and the resulting unpredictable fire behavior, combined with increased human activity, suggest that 2018 has the potential to be a busy fire year. Most of us are aware that it only takes one spark on dry grass, leaves, branches or pine needles to start a wildfire. Chainsaws, dragging trailer safety chains, carelessly tossed cigarettes, abandoned campfires, and discharge of firearms can all cause a wildfire.
Here in Sedona, surrounded as we are by the Coconino National Forest, we are at particular risk.That’s why the city and Sedona Fire District have teamed up with the Arizona Sheriff’s Association on the Ready Set Go campaign for the 2018 wildfire season.
What does that mean? We want you to get READY this spring by creating a defensible space around your home, making family plans and preparing supplies in case you need to evacuate, and signing up for city safety alerts at sedonaaz.gov/alerts. More on that in a moment.
Once your spring clean-up is done, get SET by staying aware of environmental conditions and public safety messages, and preparing your family Go Kit of important papers, medicines and pet supplies in case you need to leave home in a hurry.
Finally, it’s important that you act quickly and GO if a time comes when our public safety officials issue an evacuation warning. Fire can move fast and in unexpected ways.
Now is the time to trim or prune vegetation on your property and create fire breaks between structures and surrounding trees and vegetation. The city does allow residents to remove trees for purposes of fire safety with prior approval. If you’re unsure whether city code will allow you to remove a tree to create a defensible space, take a picture of the situation and email it to our Community Development Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sedona residents who live in Yavapai County can take advantage of two upcoming weekend-long cleanup events March 29-31 and April 5-7 to get rid of cleared vegetation and brush. A flier with the details is available online at the web address at the end of this article.
Here are two easy things to do as soon as you finish reading this article: put a date for cleaning the yard on your calendar and sign up for the city’s Nixle safety alerts. Our alert system is conducted through a third party so your contact information remains completely private – it’s shielded even from the city – and you can set your own preferences for text messages or email along with do-not-disturb hours. You can easily unsubscribe and resubscribe at any time. Visit sedonaaz.gov/alerts on the Web to sign up.
Finally, get the specifics on creating fire breaks, preparing for evacuation and the times and location for the upcoming Yavapai County clean up events at sedonaaz.gov/ReadySetGo.