Fires Rage in Arizona: Hot, Dry Weather Parched Vegetation and Turned the State Into a Tinderbox
Exceptional drought has gripped much of Arizona for months. In June 2021, a potent heat wave sent temperatures soaring above 115°F (46°C) on multiple days. Now extreme fires are raging throughout the state.
On June 21, 2021, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image of smoke streaming from several large fires in Arizona.
Dozens of fires were reported in Arizona and New Mexico in June 2021, according to data from the U.S. government fire information website InciWeb. Several blazes ignited when dry lightning struck already parched, heat-stressed landscapes.
Southwest of Flagstaff, the Rafael fire had charred more than 38 square miles (97 square kilometers) as of June 21, 2022. The fire prompted evacuations and road closures in several communities. Near Heber, the Wyrick fire had burned 11 square miles and triggered evacuations orders in Navajo County. In the far eastern part of the state near Alpine, the Horton Complex and Bear fires were generating significant amounts of smoke.