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Fire restrictions go into effect for several Arizona state forests

Stage 1 fire restrictions are being enforced in Arizona's National Forests which will restrict campfires or smoking outside of designated areas.
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 9:47 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Stage One fire restrictions are now in effect for several Arizona national forests. This means restrictions on campfires, smoking, and other activities. “The decision was made truly based on science,” Coconino National Forest Deputy Public Affairs officer Randi Shaffer said.

After the Tunnel and Crooks fires burned more than 40 square miles of our state, Shaffer says calls from the public came in quickly to close down the Coconino National Forest. But she says a weekly Monday call with other local and national government organizations determines what the appropriate course of action is.

“We look at fuel moisture levels. We look at current and predicted weather; we look at our available firefighting resources,” she said. “You know, what do we have in the area versus which crews are national.”

The call was made last Friday to implement Stage One fire restrictions in the Coconino, Tonto, Prescott, and parts of the Kaibab National Forests. Any campfires using charcoal or wood are prohibited unless they are on a forest’s developed recreation site. And no smoking or vaping outside of developed recreation sites unless you’re in a building or a closed vehicle.

“Restrictions are not something we like to impose,” Bureau of Land Management Public Information Officer Dolores Garcia said. “Because ultimately, we want to make sure the public can enjoy the public lands as much as possible.”

Garcia says this year’s Stage One fire restrictions happened a few weeks earlier than when they are usually enforced. “With the Tunnel fire, with the Crooks fire, we have to honestly say that those were kind of early-season fires for us,” Garcia said. “And they really did bring to attention of how critically dry the situation is.”

Garcia says punishment for not following the restrictions can range from fines to jail time to even paying for fire suppression services if a campfire turns into a wildfire. Her advice? “Know before you go,” she said. “Make sure you do your research to know what the restrictions are in the area you plan to go recreate.”

Each state forest has its own website with information on specific rules and guidelines.