Arizona forest to begin fire restrictions earlier than usual

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Fire restrictions are set to go into effect in Tonto and Prescott National Forests (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Fire restrictions are set to go into effect in Tonto and Prescott National Forests (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Campfires, smoking and target shooting soon will be restricted on a central Arizona national forest.

The Tonto National Forest and Gila County are implementing stage two fire restrictions Wednesday. The move comes earlier than usual this year because of dry weather and warm temperatures.

"It's pretty early to be putting fire restrictions in place but it's for everyone's benefit," said Tiffany Davila with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona wildfires]

Building a campfire, smoking outside a vehicle or developed recreation site, and target shooting will be prohibited.

[RELATED: Fire restrictions begin on Tonto and Prescott National Forests]

"We have been experiencing a multi-year drought but this past winter has been exceptionally bad, Most of the state has seen very little rain and snow and that could lead to a very bad fire season," said Mark O'Malley with the National Weather Service.

The use of fireworks or explosives is always banned.

Officials say campers can use petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns and heating devices if the fire can be extinguished immediately.

"We don't need another Wallow Fire. We don't need to see what happened in California to happen here so that's why we keep pushing the message out, one spark is really all it takes," said Davila.

Anyone found guilty of violating fire restrictions faces a maximum $5,000 fine and six months in jail.

The same restrictions go into effect in the Prescott National Forest on Friday.

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