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May 23, 2013 1:16 PM by Faye DeHoff

Arizona drivers can help prevent wildfires

PHOENIX - Before leaving on a Memorial Day Weekend road trip, the Arizona Department of Transportation is urging motorists to take a few extra precautions since of the state is under severe fire restrictions.

Dry, hot and windy weather in Arizona creates ideal conditions for a wildfire, and motorists should be aware of the important role they play in wildfire prevention.

In 2012, approximately 55 percent of wildfires in Arizona were human-caused and most could have been prevented, according to State Forester Scott Hunt with the Arizona State Forestry Division.

"Roadside fires can ignite from a car pulling a trailer with improperly adjusted safety chains dragging on the pavement and creating sparks, or the careless disposal of smoking materials," Hunt said. "Taking simple precautions will reduce roadside fires in Arizona."

Preventing wildfires is everyone's responsibility, especially when operating a vehicle. ADOT recommends following these wildfire prevention tips to reduce the threat of fire along Arizona's roads:

·Avoid driving or parking your vehicle in tall grass that touches your vehicle's exhaust system
·Never throw a lighted cigarette out the window of a vehicle
·When pulling a trailer, attach safety chains securely; loose chains can drag on the pavement and cause sparks, igniting roadside fires
·Look behind you before driving away to check for signs of a developing fire
·Observe "Red Flag" warnings. Warnings are issued when weather conditions are conducive to the easy start and rapid spread of wildfires
·Always use a spark arrestor in internal combustion engines

Driving into wildfire smoke can be dangerous; avoid active fires by calling 5-1-1 or log onto ADOT's Traveler Information site at:
www.az511.gov <http://www.az511.gov/> to seek alternate routes.

Additional information on wildfires can be obtained through the Arizona Emergency Information Network at:
www.azein.gov <http://www.azein.gov/>, the state's online source for real-time emergency updates, preparedness and hazard information. An excellent source for wildfire information is:
www.wildlandfire.az.gov <http://www.wildlandfire.az.gov/>, which is supported by wildland fire agencies in Arizona as part of an interagency collaboration.

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