Campfire restrictions for holiday weekend

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by Jason Volentine

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonvolentine

azfamily.com

Posted on May 24, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Updated Saturday, May 24 at 12:01 PM

TONTO NATIONAL FOREST, Ariz. -- To help prevent any more wildfires over the Memorial Day weekend there are fire restrictions in place. Nearly every campground statewide has banned campfires.

Rangers at the Tonto National Forest are watching those restrictions closely to keep the forest safe.

“There's a campfire ring right over there with wood all piled in it, ready to go,” Tonto National Forest Ranger Todd Willard said as he scanned the beaches at Bartlett Lake with binoculars.

He later had a chat with the campers he spotted to make sure they weren't considering starting a fire.

“There's always the five percent or so that typically will push it and see what they can get away with,” he said.

Rangers said they always find a few people who break the rules, which not only ban campfires but also charcoal grills and shooting.

Campers are allowed to cook food with a propane or gas grill, and that’s pretty much it.

The restrictions are in place because of the dangerously dry conditions. Willard said the Tonto is a tinder box right now, and it’s a forest that’s had big fires before.

Of course, even those who follow the rules don’t like safety spoiling their fun.

“You want to come out here and have a good time down by the water. It gets cold at night. We were freezing last night but we have no way of heating ourselves up because we're not allowed to have a fire,” said camper Michael Cadenhead.

His two kids added that it’s a bummer not being able to make s’mores.

Most fire restrictions have limited exceptions so wherever you're going, stop by the ranger station and ask.

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