Multiple national forests in Arizona reopen after rains reduce fire risk

Jul 6, 2021, 4:55 AM | Updated: 10:32 pm
(Facebook photo/U.S. Forest Service - Coconino National Forest)...
(Facebook photo/U.S. Forest Service - Coconino National Forest)
(Facebook photo/U.S. Forest Service - Coconino National Forest)

PHOENIX — Three national forests in northern Arizona have lifted closures that were implemented last month in response to elevated wildfire risks.

The Coconino, Kaibab and Prescott national forests mostly reopened for visitors Tuesday but are keeping Stage 2 fire restrictions in place. The Bill Williams Mountain area in the Kaibab National Forest remained off-limits.

Meanwhile, the Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests will lift closures on Wednesday at 8 a.m. with Stage 2 fire restrictions remaining in place.

Specific closures may also still be in effect around active wildfires.

Most of the state’s national forests were closed about two weeks ago because of dry conditions. Officials decided to reopen the forests because recent rains have reduced the fire risk.

The Kaibab National Forest includes sections near Williams and north of the Grand Canyon. The Coconino National Forest includes the San Francisco Peaks overlooking Flagstaff plus areas south and southeast of Flagstaff.

Stage 2 fire restrictions prohibit igniting fires, campfires, charcoal, coal, smudge pots and wood stoves.

A stove or grill that is solely fueled by pressurized liquid petroleum or pressurized liquid petroleum gas fuels can still be used.

Smoking is prohibited except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of any flammable material.

Operating a chainsaw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine for felling, bucking, skidding, processing, road building and woodcutting during industrial operations or firewood gathering capable of igniting a fire is prohibited between the hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. under the restrictions.

Blasting, welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with an open flame during those times is also prohibited.

Explosives and fireworks are always prohibited on all national forest land.

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 U.S. Forest Service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Multiple national forests in Arizona reopen after rains reduce fire risk