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Forests in Arizona ease fire restrictions following heavy rains

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

PHOENIX — Fire restrictions were relaxed at some Arizona forests following heavy rainfall from recent monsoon storms.

Forests announcing changes effective Friday included Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab Prescott and Tonto. Some of those forests said they still have closures and restrictions in effect in some areas due to active wildfires and other circumstances.

Grand Canyon National Park also rolled back restrictions from Stage 2 to Stage 1 effective Friday.

“Recent rainfall is allowing us to ease restrictions,” Taiga Rohrer, Tonto fire management officer, said in a press release. “But we need the public to keep in mind that there have been more than 1,000 wildfires in Arizona this year that have burned nearly 500,000 acres.”

At the forests, igniting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or stove fire, including use of charcoal or briquettes, outside a U.S. Forest Service fire structure is still prohibited.

Smoking outside of an enclosed vehicle or building, or a developed recreation site also isn’t allowed.

Visitors at Grand Canyon National Park must only ignite a campfire in a designated fire ring within a maintained campground.

Inner canyon users can use gas cook stoves, but campfires and other open fires are never allowed below the rim.

Anyone caught violating fire restrictions is subject to a fine of up to $5,000 and up to six months in prison.

Nearly 500,000 acres have burned in Arizona this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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