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Wildfires have burned more Arizona land in 2020 than in 2018, 2019 combined

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Wildfires have burned more acres of land this year than 2018 and 2019 combined in Arizona.

Nearly 700,000 acres of land have burned in Arizona since January. Both humans and nature are at fault for these fires. However, the biggest factor is the difference in rainfall this year compared to last year. 

Tiffany Davila is the Public Affairs Officer with the Department of Forestry and Fire Management in Arizona. She said that the rainy end of 2019 and the lack of monsoon rains this year is what caused the uptick in fires.

"We had about I would say nearly 1,700 wildfires this year. Also 87% of our wildfires this year have been human-caused," Davila said. "We've had the influx of vegetation, the fine fuels, across the central region and across Southern Arizona. We had this overgrowth last year and then the winter moisture just added to that overgrowth."

There was overgrowth on the Catalina Mountains that led to the nature-caused Bighorn Fire and overgrowth on the human-caused Bush Fire.

Those two fires alone contribute over 300,000 acres of the burned land in the state.

Laura Marshall is a post-doctoral student at the University of Arizona. She is studying causes of wildfires.

Marshall said the Bighorn Fire had another factor that led to its quick spread.

"It's been really unusual this year. We have seen some major wind events really late in the year," Marshall said. "That's really allowed the fires that have started to just go and explosively spread up the mountain toward Summerhaven."

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Daniel McFarland

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