Hot standby: AZ wildland firefighters watch California fires and prepare to protect Arizona

Craig Smith

Golder Fire Capt. Kris Croddy and his wildland fire crews are prepared to jump in a truck and go wherever they're needed

Hot standby: AZ wildland firefighters watch California fires and prepare to protect Arizona

CREATED May. 3, 2013

ORO VALLEY, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - Firefighters in Southern Arizona are on standby--ready in case a monster fire like California's could blow up here.
They are armed with their training and experience fighting fires here in Arizona.

Hot, windy, dry, with plant life dry as the desert sand.  It's not hard to look at California and see what could be our future.

Blazes are ripping across Southern California, damaging homes, and blackening the landscape while about a thousand firefighters fight back. Arizona firefighters have faced even bigger mega fires.
At Golder Ranch Fire, Captain Kris Croddy knows what could be ahead for him and his crews.

"Our gear is packed.  Our bags are packed and you give a kiss to your wife in the morning.  Maybe you'll see her in two or three weeks; you just never know."
Our own fire danger is so severe his crews will stay close to protect Arizona for now.  On their side they have intense training, to go with intense experience fighting huge fires in Arizona, and around the U.S.
To stay prepared, Croddy monitors fires around the nation, the weather conditions that could make them grow, and the resources available to put them out.  When our state is less of a fire hazard, he could be at a new fire like the monster in California or even farther away.

"Once we get our monsoon season and the threat goes down, the fire season kind of shifts and we'll go to Montana, Texas, Colorado, California, wherever the need is."
For now the need is to stay in Arizona but watch California to see what lessons from that fire could help us here.
Here's a measure of how big the wildfire problem can be.  That fire co-ordination site shows 967 wildfires across the county today. And it says that's a light day.