Tonto National Forest, some state trust lands implementing Stage 1 fire restrictions

May 23, 2024, 4:15 AM | Updated: 6:15 am

A large fire burns...

A large fire burns across Tonto National Forest. (Scottsdale FD photo)

(Scottsdale FD photo)

PHOENIX — Tonto National Forest officials are putting into effect stage 1 fire and recreational target shooting restrictions for parts of the forest beginning Thursday at 8 a.m.

Stage 1 fire restrictions were also implemented on State Trust lands in Gila, Maricopa and Pinal counties.

Authorities applied the restrictions to reduce the risk of future wildfires.

An enormous blaze called the Wildcat Fire has been burning north of Phoenix near Tonto National Forest since Saturday. It had grown to over 14,000 acres.

What’s prohibited when going to the Tonto National Forest?

People are not allowed to build, maintain, attend, or use a fire, campfire or stove fire outside a structure that is provided by the Forest Service within a designated area. That includes charcoal and briquettes.

Officials define a fire structure as a permanent metal or concrete structure specifically designed to contain a campfire or cooking fire that the Forest Service or equivalent installed and maintains.

Officials also define designated areas as developed recreation sites. For example, campgrounds and picnic areas that are maintained and administered by the Forest Service, shown on the current Forest visitor maps and equipped with permanent fire structures count as developed recreation sites.

Recreational shooting restrictions will also be put into place in order to try and protect the public and firefighters. The restrictions will not cease until officials decide that the risk of human-caused wildfires subsides.

These other restrictions are in place:

  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is empty or cleared of any flammable material
  • Discharging a firearm, air rifle or gas gun

What are the exemptions to stage 1 fire restrictions?

  • Those using a device that is solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off are exempt. Such devices may only be used in an area that is empty or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the device.
  • Any federal, state, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting resource in the performance of official duty is also exempt.
  • Those with a written Forest Service authorization specifically exempting them are also exempt.
  • Hunters involved with legal hunting activity in accordance with state, federal, or tribal laws and regulations may discharge a firearm while taking wildlife.

How can the public help fight wildfires?

Fire Staff Officer Andy Mandell said he wants the public to do their part and follow the fire restrictions to try and reduce the risk of wildfires.

“Vehicle fires continue to occur along SR 87. It only takes one spark from dragging trailer chains or an exposed wheel rim caused by a tire blowout to ignite dry vegetation,” Mandell said in a press release. “We urge the public to have their vehicles inspected before heading to the forest to avoid a blowout. Properly greased axles can help reduce the risk of a roadside fire.”

Parking over dry grass can also spark a wildfire, according to Mandell. The fire staff officer urged the public to make sure their vehicles are kept up with the summer heat also posing a big threat.

Those who violate fire restrictions can be imprisoned.

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Tonto National Forest, some state trust lands implementing Stage 1 fire restrictions