It is an early start to the fire season in the Tucson area, or, the 2009 fire season actually never ended. Here is an excerpt from an article at azstarnet.com:
Fires in winter mean we need a mind-set like summer
That’s the message from area forest managers, who say warm, dry conditions in our wild lands make it necessary to adopt fire-season behavior early this year.
“Here we are in the middle of winter and we’re still seeing active fire, so it’s important for people to … take personal responsibility and not be the ignition source,” said Heidi Schewel, a spokeswoman for Coronado National Forest.
Kristy Lund, fire manager for Saguaro National Park and the Coronado’s Santa Catalina District, said, “Fire behavior is nothing like it should be at this time of the year.”
Fires are spreading rapidly and burning through the night, she said.
Five fires have started in Southern Arizona’s Coronado National Forest this year, including two still burning in the Nogales Ranger District.
Coronado officials say the 800-acre Black Peak Fire, 10 miles south of Arivaca, is 40 percent contained and not expected to grow much bigger. Acreage on that fire was reduced when officials flew its perimeter Wednesday.
Crews began attacking the nearby Apache Fire on Wednesday. That 300-acre fire is 20 percent contained, and most of its growth came from backfires set to keep it from spreading.
Pete Schwab, deputy fire manager for the Coronado, said early fires tax the Forest Service’s ability to respond. Seasonal firefighters can’t be hired until April, and no aircraft are on standby.
About 100 firefighters from several agencies along with one rented helicopter were used to fight the two most recent fires.
All five fires are believed to be human-caused and are under investigation. The four fires in the Nogales district occurred along smuggling routes, and the Five Fire near Molino Basin started in an area often used by target shooters.