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Fire restrictions rolled back across Arizona due to monsoon season

(Facebook Photo. U.S. Forest Service - Tonto National Forest)

PHOENIX — Fire restrictions are being scaled back across Arizona due to the environmental moisture provided by monsoon season, according to authorities.

Officials from Grand Canyon National Park, state lands and Tonto National Forest announced in separate statements Wednesday that fire restrictions had been eased or were scheduled to be rolled back this week.

As of Wednesday morning, Stage 2 fire restrictions in Grand Canyon National Park had been downgraded to Stage 1 — the park’s default fire category, according to a press release.

“Increased monsoonal activity throughout northern Arizona has significantly lowered the fire danger risk within the last week,” officials said in the release.

Grand Canyon National Park had implemented Stage 2 fire restrictions on May 25.

Fire restrictions are set to be lifted Thursday on state lands in Apache, Coconino (south of Grand Canyon National Park), Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, Navajo, Pima, Pinal and Santa Cruz Counties, authorities said.

State land in Yavapai County will also have its fire restrictions lifted on Saturday.

Fire restrictions will remain in place in Coconino (north of Grand Canyon National Park) Gila, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave and Yuma Counties, according to a press release.

“State fire managers feel lackluster monsoon conditions in the central region warrant restrictions to stay in place longer and until more ideal weather conditions are present,” authorities said in the release.

Finally, Tonto National Forest will downgrade its Stage 3 fire restrictions to Stage 1 at 8 a.m. Friday due to increased moisture due to monsoon season.

Apache Lake will also reopen at the same time with Stage 1 fire restrictions in effect, officials said.

On Tuesday, officials from three national forests in Arizona announced lifted or plans to lift restrictions on their lands.

Fire restrictions ended at Coconino and Kaibab national forests Tuesday and recreation sites in Prescott National Forest were set to reopen Saturday, according to representatives for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency which oversees the forests.

According to the USDA, the focus of Stage 1 fire restrictions are to prevent wildfires caused by campfires and smoking whereas Stage 2 restrictions encompass additional activities such as using tools with an internal combustion engine, welding or using a tool with an open flame, detonating fireworks or other incendiary devices and discharging a firearm when not engaged in lawful hunting activities.

A Stage 3 fire restriction is implemented when conditions necessitate closing a forest to the public.

More than 460,000 acres of land have burned in wildfires in Arizona this year.

Three of those fires — the Bush Fire, Bighorn Fire and Mangum Fire — rank in the top 10 largest blazes in the state’s history.

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