PHOENIX — Careless campers and the heat wave across much of the state has led to tougher restrictions in a northern Arizona forest.
The Coconino National Forest has stepped up fire restrictions as of Thursday morning. The forest has been in Stage I fire restrictions since June 15. That move prohibited campfires across the wilderness area and limited them to hosted developed campsites only.
Brady Smith with the Forest Service said 34 abandoned campfires were located last weekend. With the number of abandoned campfires found each day, coupled with dry lightning and warm weather, it was necessary to implement additional restrictions.
“Campfires, charcoal, coal, and wood stoves will be banned across the entire Coconino National Forest and that includes developed recreation campsites,” Smith said.
“No smoking outside of enclosed vehicle or building. Fireworks are never permitted. Operating a chainsaw or any other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine won’t be allowed from the hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.”
The exception was generators with an approved spark arresting device within an enclosed vehicle or building or in an area that was barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the generator.
Smith said there had been rain in the high country but it hadn’t been enough to knock down the fire danger.
“These storms have only dropped bucket loads across limited areas of the forest. It has not been widespread. Until we receive significant precipitation, the restrictions stay in place,” he said.
Smith added motorized vehicles can only travel on open forest roads.
Violators can be fined up to $5,000, be imprisoned up to six months, or both.