Summer is wildfire season in the western United States, butpredicting the number, extent, and severity of fires is always an educatedguessing game.
Prior to this year´s season, fire behavior experts figured that abundantwinter and spring rains in the drought-stricken Southwest would lead to anincrease in potential wildfire activity. They were right.
The rain from this past winter and early spring in the Southwest and Californiaprompted the growth of fine fuel grasses and forbs so there is more fuel on theground than usual, said Mike Apicello, a public affairs officer with theNational Interagency Fire Center and a former Forest Service smokejumper.
What is significant about this year is that , because of those rains, wehave had growth of fine fuels in areas that may not have seen this type of fuelbefore.
For example, in saguaro cactus ecosystems, where we don´t get many firesbecause there´s not a continuous fuel base, the rains have generated growththat is able to carry fire.