Friday Catchall: Fire season is upon us

No, that’s not a pretty sunset. That was the Scott Fire from July 2016. (Courier file)

No, that’s not a pretty sunset. That was the Scott Fire from July 2016. (Courier file)

The Friday Catchall:

• FIRE SEASON – The story is changing, but the message of danger remains the same.

Each year I have become accustomed to winter rain and snow making the grasses, weeds and everything else grow like crazy. Then, during our driest months of the year – May and June – all undergrowth and foliage withers. All the while we trim and mow, whether it is the Kentucky bluegrass some people fight, or the natural grasses and weeds I chop down about four times a year.

It is also common for fire departments and districts to issue restrictions; banning welding, outdoor fires or smoking, and anything that can produce a spark (even mowing).

The saving grace has been the monsoons (rainy season) fix it all, long about Fourth of July. Still, fire restrictions have been put in place earlier some years and, only once or twice in my memory, not at all.

With little-to-no precipitation since Sept. 13, 2017 – yes, half an inch or so since then is practically nothing for a winter – the powers that be are warning this could be a really bad year for fire; what could hurt even more: spring rains making everything grow! Watch the Courier and dCourier.com for an upcoming analysis of this.

Consider, in the meantime, anywhere you live threats exist. In Oklahoma, Kansas, northern Texas and beyond, it is tornados. California has earthquakes and fires. Coloradoans see all of these, plus flooding. You get the idea.

In Arizona, yes, we have an earthquake fault east of Chino Valley (remember that one in 2011?), and we have seen tornados – such as those that hit near Flagstaff in 2010 and the funnel clouds last summer in the Prescott area. We also see flooding when an inch of rain (more more) falls in a short period of time (the most recent was near Mayer after the 2017 Goodwin Fire; others I remember were in Paulden years ago and the time two young men died trying to canoe a swollen Granite Creek in Prescott).

But it is fire – wildfire in our forests and desert areas (yes, there too!) – that is most common. We hear about it more, it has farther-reaching effects, and largely is avoidable. (On Thursday, firefighters in Chino Valley battled a fire started by someone … mowing.)

We all have our crosses to bear.

This year, pray for rain and make a great effort to do nothing that could light a fire. Yes, already; it could be a long haul in 2018.

• WATCH OUT! – On Jan. 6 the Courier featured a road safety article, “Nearly 200 pedestrians, cyclists have been hit on Prescott streets since 2013.”

And Prescott-area road bicyclist Pat White says the article didn’t go far enough.

“Bicycles, cars/motorcycles and pedestrians in this town have a lot to remember to maintain the safety for all of us,” he wrote, suggesting we publish three articles – one for each mode of transportation – that would outline the safety concerns of each, with the responsibilities of each user to the others on the road.

First, I appreciate that he wrote in. Also, this type of public service – keeping safety concerns at the forefront – is important to me.

Did you know that pedestrians do NOT always have the right of way? How about bicycles? And, vehicles have responsibilities too.

Watch the Courier and dCourier.com for these types of articles; feel free to email me with your ideas at twieds@prescottaz.com.

• TAX REFORM – I have received many calls about the tax reform package passed by Congress in late December and signed by President Trump.

Most of it, such as the $24,000 Standard Deduction, kicks in for the 2018 tax year; this spring we are filing tax returns for the 2017 tax year.

Do not be disappointed when you go to file this year and the changes/benefits are not there.

• PICK OF THE WEEK – (Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): Folk Sessions 15th Anniversary Concert, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, at Prescott Center for the Arts, 208 N. Marina St. The event features musical friends old and new – including Prescott Cowboy/filmmaker Gail Steiger. www.pca-az.net.

Enjoy!

Tim Wiederaenders is the senior editor for The Daily Courier and Prescott Newspapers, Inc. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or twieds@prescottaz.com.

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