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June 23, 2022

UArizona Wildfire Experts Available

TUCSON, Ariz. — Since the start of 2022, nearly 32,000 wildfires have burned over 3.2 million acres in the United States, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Experts warn that throughout the summer, much of the Western United States will need to brace for a higher-than-average risk of wildfires, although Arizona's risk is expected to fall to about average after June.

At least 10 wildfires are burning in Arizona, six of which are classified as large.

The Contreras Fire has been burning since June 11 on the Tohono O'odham reservation – located on 2.8 million acres south and west of Tucson – and has consumed 29,482 acres. The morning of June 17, the fire reached Kitt Peak National Observatory, the location of several astronomy facilities managed by the University of Arizona Steward Observatory. The fire is now 83% contained.

The Pipeline Fire, about 6 miles north of Flagstaff, ignited June 12 and has burned over 26,500 acres. It is now 80% contained.

Several University of Arizona experts are available to answer wildfire-related questions.

Donald Falk is a professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. He studies fire history, fire ecology, dendroecology, post-fire resilience and restoration ecology. Falk teaches an introductory class on wildfire science and restoration and can speak about possible links between wildfires and climate change, how ecosystems recover from wildfires, and tree-ring analysis. He has worked extensively in the Western U.S. and Mexico reconstructing historic fire regimes from tree rings.

Molly Hunter is an associate research professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. She can speak about applied fire science, including ecological effects of wildfires and effectiveness of different fuel management actions. She works to disseminate scientific findings, identify critical fire science needs and evaluate outcomes.
(Available starting June 27)

Michael Crimmins is a professor and Cooperative Extension specialist who studies climate science. He investigates how climate conditions can enhance or suppress wildfire conditions. He can also speak about fire weather patterns and the climatology of fire danger.
(Unavailable July 6-20)

Luke McGuire is an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences who studies post-fire hazards, especially debris flows and landslides and the tools that help predict their occurrence. His research quantifies the changes among soils and vegetation that occur in burned areas and how this affects runoff, erosion and hazards.

Jim Malusa is a research scientist in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment with expertise in wildlife recovery after a wildfire. He studies this by matching photos taken pre- and post-fire.

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Media contact:
Mikayla Mace Kelley
University Communications

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 50 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2020 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $761 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 66 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.

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