New fire restrictions to begin in 3 national forests, plus State Trust lands across Arizona

Jun 5, 2024, 10:49 AM

Coconino National Forest will be under Stage 1 fire and smoking restrictions starting Thursday....

Coconino National Forest will be under Stage 1 fire and smoking restrictions starting Thursday. (Coconino National Forest Photo)

(Coconino National Forest Photo)

PHOENIX — Three national forests plus Arizona State Trust lands in multiple counties will go under Stage 1 fire restrictions on Thursday morning, authorities said.

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management (DFFM) said the restrictions will start at 8 a.m.

The restrictions cover all of Tonto, Prescott and Coconino national forests, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management is implementing Stage 1 on all State Trust land within Apache, La Paz, Mohave, Navajo, Yavapai and Yuma counties as well as the portion of Coconino County south of the Grand Canyon.

“Restrictions remain in effect until rescinded,” according to DFFM’s Wednesday announcement.

The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department started its annual ban of fires in desert parks and reserves on May 1. The Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department set a similar ban in place that day as well.

Stage 1 fire restrictions are currently in place on State Trust lands in Gila, Maricopa and Pinal Counties.

Why are Arizona authorities putting these restrictions in place?

Hot and dry weather conditions combined with a rise in human-caused fires spurred Arizona wildlife leaders to set Stage 1 fire and smoking restrictions in place, according to the Tonto National Forest.

Essentially, officials want to reduce the chance of people causing even more fires, which can grow rapidly during hot and dry temperatures. Over the past month, multiple people have started fires near the forest, such as the Wildcat Fire and the recent Spring and Adams fires.

“The specific cause of these human-caused wildfires ranged from vehicle fires to recreational target shooting,” according to the announcement from Tonto National Forest. “All told, these fires burned almost 23,500 acres in just over a month.”

What are Stage 1 fire and smoking restrictions?

Fire restrictions are implemented under certain criteria. For example, current and predicted weather can trigger them. Fuel moisture, fire activity levels and available firefighting resources can also cause restrictions.

Under Stage 1 restrictions, fires, campfires, charcoal, coal, wood stoves and smudge pots are prohibited, except within a developed recreation site.

Another exemption is using a stove or grill that is solely fueled by pressurized petroleum or pressurized liquid petroleum gas (LPG) fuels, which is allowed in areas that are barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the device.

Fire restrictions exist to help prevent human-caused fires. They also limit exposure to the public during in the midst of dangerous fire conditions. They typically remain in effect until the area receives widespread precipitation.

Any violations could result in mandatory appearance in a federal court, fines or jail time.

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New fire restrictions to begin in 3 national forests, plus State Trust lands across Arizona