As weather warms, you can help prevent wildfires along highways

April 19, 2017 - 9:34 am

Like a lot of Arizona these days, the hillsides along State Route 87 south of Payson look mighty green after a wet winter. But that didn’t stop a brush fire from breaking out last week after a vehicle dragging chains threw sparks off the roadway, backing up traffic as first responders addressed the blaze.

When warmer temperatures turn all that ground cover brown, there will be even more reason for precautions to prevent brush fires along highways.

“Everyone can help prevent fires,” said Jesse Gutierrez, the Arizona Department of Transportation’s deputy state engineer for statewide operations. “That starts with making sure your tires are properly inflated, being careful not to park over tall grasses and ensuring that chains aren’t dragging.”

During the winter and spring, ADOT crews mow vegetation along highway shoulders. Crews also remove brush, thin trees and spray fire retardant within the ADOT right-of-way to prevent fires and slow the spread of those that occur. But motorists have an important role as well:

  • Don’t park in tall grass, as the heat from parts under your vehicle can start a fire.
  • Make sure nothing is hanging from underneath your vehicle and dragging on the pavement.
  • Dragging chains during towing can cause sparks. Never substitute parts when towing.
  • Check tire pressure before you travel. Exposed wheel rims can cause sparks.

ADOT participates in the “One Less Spark One Less Wildfire” campaign that the U.S. Forest Service and other land management agencies launched to focus on the role drivers and homeowners play in preventing wildfires.

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