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Arizona’s wildfire season got off to slow start because of wet winter, but larger fires popping up

By Jill Ryan
Published: Friday, June 23, 2023 - 5:24pm
Updated: Friday, June 23, 2023 - 5:44pm

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Arizona’s wildfire season got off to a slow start because of the wet winter — but now as temperatures warm — larger fires are popping up, especially in southern Arizona. While rain is welcomed, the state’s monsoon season may or may not help. 

There are two growing fires raging in Cochise County because of the abundance of dry vegetation. 

While evacuations have been called off in Cochise County, both the Wildhorse Fire, near Sierra Vista, and Post Fire, near Benson, are still raging. The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management says both are only 5% contained as of the morning of June 23.

Carol Capas from the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office says to stay alert.

The Post Fire in Cochise County
The Post Fire in Cochise County on June 23, 2023, about seven miles southwest of Benson.

“It’s dry out there, and as soon as we start getting rain it’s hopefully going to get better, but in the interim, we’ve had multiple reports of fires even in other counties close to Cochise County. 

Arizona’s monsoon season officially began on June 15, but it’s forecast to be likely very dry. But regardless of if the rain comes, monsoons are a double-edged sword.

Tiffany Davila is with the state Department of Forestry and Fire Management. She says Arizona’s monsoon rain will determine the length of the wildfire season.

“If we don’t really start seeing anything until mid-July, end of July, then our fire activity will stay steady through that. But then you also have that dry lightning associated with monsoons, so a lot of those human-caused starts will transition to lightning fires," Davila said.

Davila also says “southern Arizona and some of the Sonoran Desert within the central region” are the primary spots for larger fire activity.