30 years after the deadly Dude Fire, work begins in the forest to prevent another disaster

By Hayleigh Evans
Arizona Republic
November 10, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

PAYSON — On June 27, 1990, two stories dominated the headlines in Arizona. One documented the hottest day on record in Phoenix, where the temperature peaked at 122 degrees. The second story reported that six firemen had been killed in the Dude Fire. Now, 33 years later, forest managers are concerned history may repeat itself. Arizona experienced one of its hottest and driest summers, increasing wildfire danger across the state, and the Dude Fire burn scar has become an extremely high risk for another destructive fire. An overabundance of fuels was one of the reasons why the Dude Fire was so destructive, and after decades of excessive fire suppression in forests, low-lying vegetation has taken over again. To prevent future catastrophic fires, the U.S. Forest Service, Salt River Project and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management are thinning forest areas in northern and central Arizona.

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