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3 more national forests in Arizona to close for now over fire concerns

Rafael Fire (Yavapai County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX – More national forests in Arizona are closing to visitors this week as over a dozen large wildfires continue to tear across the state.

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest will shut down Thursday at 6 a.m., while Prescott National Forest will begin a full closure starting Friday at 8 a.m.

Tonto National Forest planned to implement a Stage 3 closure Friday, but officials hadn’t specified when as of Wednesday morning. They added some lakes, roads and recreation areas will remain accessible.

Coconino and Kaibab national forests closures started Wednesday.

The public will not be allowed to enter any part of the forests.

Prescott forest officials said personnel will try to alert as many campers who are already on the premises as possible that they must leave. People with privately owned land will be able to get to their property.

Anyone caught violating closures or fire restrictions is subject to a fine of up to $5,000 and up to six months in prison, according to the Forest Service.

The Department of Forestry and Fire Management and the Arizona State Lane Department will also implement closures of state trust lands and parks outside incorporated municipalities throughout Arizona starting at 8 a.m. on Friday.

Firefighters are battling 14 large-scale blazes in Arizona, the most in the country. About 315,000 acres have fried in the dry conditions as of Tuesday morning, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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