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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news September 14, 2014

6/27/2011 10:54:00 PM
Prescott Forest bans all fires this week; City joins in
Les Stukenberg/The Daily CourierThe Prescott Forest hit extreme fire danger for the first time this year Monday
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
The Prescott Forest hit extreme fire danger for the first time this year Monday
Fire bans explained:
Following are the fire restrictions that go into effect Wednesday on the Prescott and Coconino national forests:

• No campfires or burning of any wood, charcoal or coal. The ban now includes all developed recreation areas.

• No smoking except in an enclosed vehicle or building.

• No shooting of any type of guns, including air rifles and gas guns.

• No welding or other torches.

• No explosives.

• No fireworks, which always are prohibited on national forestlands.

• No chainsaws between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. At other times they need a cleared area 5-10 feet in diameter.

While the Prescott Forest continues to allow off-highway vehicle use in the Alto Pit OHV area, the Coconino has closed its OHV areas.

Vehicles are not allowed to drive off roads and trails at any time on the national forests in Arizona.

Fire-use violations are class B misdemeanors punishable by as many as six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

City of Prescott fire restrictions starting Wednesday include:

• No wood or charcoal flames or other combustibles.

• No chainsaws, welding or other spark-producing equipment without a special PFD permit.

• Propane barbecues must be constantly attended and located in an enclosed device.

For more details about fire restrictions throughout Arizona, call 1-877-864-6985 or go online to azfireinfo.az.gov.

For details about fire restrictions in Yavapai County, go online to regionalinfo-alert.org.

Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier

The Prescott National Forest is ramping up its fire restrictions and banning all fires Wednesday, as firefighting resources continue to be strained by huge blazes across the Southwest.

The Coconino National Forest also is banning all fires starting Wednesday.

The Prescott Fire Department is following suit Wednesday, banning all types of fires including charcoal/wood barbecues.

Unusually windy conditions for June are continuing to fan the flames of wildfires across the Southwest, and the National Weather Service is forecasting continued high winds through at least Wednesday. The Prescott Forest hit extreme fire danger for the first time this year Monday.

Just as firefighters are starting to get a handle on the huge blazes burning in Arizona, a new one took off near Los Alamos, N.M. on Sunday. It torched 43,000 acres within 24 hours and has forced the evacuation of the city's entire population of about 12,000 people.

"It's definitely going to be a season we remember for a long time," said Jeff Andrews, assistant fire staff officer on the Prescott Forest who currently is helping a Type II national fire team fight the 9,334-acre Pacheco blaze near Santa Fe. "We've been lucky so far in Prescott."

Andrews noted that he can see the huge Las Conchas wildfire plume near Los Alamos casting a shadow over the Pacheco fire. His team includes several firefighters from the Prescott area.

The largest fire in Arizona's history, the 538,000-acre Wallow fire, was 82 percent contained Monday. An abandoned campfire ignited it. Elsewhere in Arizona, the Horseshoe Two fire was contained Saturday at 222,954 acres, while the 30,526-acre Monument Fire was 85 percent contained. All were human-caused and are under investigation.

A total of nearly 3,300 firefighters were battling these three blazes alone.

"This is the largest deployment of local fire department resources in Arizona history," said David Geyer, the state's fire management officer. He estimated local fire departments deployed a total of at least 200 fire trucks to wildfires at the peak of this season so far.

"This is a fairly unprecedented year for us," he said.

Fireworks and dry lightning

A new complication in the mix of extreme fire conditions in the Southwest is the legal sale of fireworks despite the fact that they are illegal to use almost everywhere in the state, including all of Yavapai County.

Central Yavapai Fire Marshal Charlie Cook inspected a temporary fireworks business in a tent Monday and found it nearly empty of fireworks. That has him worried.

This will be the first Independence Day holiday in which some fireworks are legal in Arizona. Municipalities and counties can ban their use, but they can't ban their sale.

"Anything that can be lit cannot be used right now," Cook said for those who are confused about what's legal in this region.

Central Yavapai is considering today whether to increase its fire restrictions, too, Cook said.

Prescott residents could see high clouds on the northeastern horizon Monday, one of the first signs of the monsoon. The city has a 10 percent chance of thunderstorms Wednesday, with a forecast for high winds that could produce a red-flag warning. The monsoon usually arrives here sometime around the Fourth of July.

Before the monsoon comes dry lightning, and the short-term forecast is calling for dry lightning danger Wednesday mainly along the Arizona-New Mexico border, said Chris Outler at the National Weather Service office in Flagstaff.

Resources strained

The U.S. Forest Service has been at wildfire preparedness level 5 in Arizona and New Mexico since June 6. That means firefighting resources throughout the Southwest are almost fully committed on existing wildfires, and large fire behavior is high or extreme.

"Threats to life and property are multiple and extreme," as the Forest Service explains Level 5.

"Federal resources are getting strained," Geyer said, such as aircraft and Hot Shot crews.

Federal firefighters from throughout the country are helping out on the Prescott National Forest, which has been lucky and avoided any major wildfires despite plenty of fire-ban violations.

The Prescott Forest has seen four wildfires since it went back into some kind of fire restrictions June 8, dispatcher Jennifer Coleman said, but firefighters held them all to a quarter-acre or smaller.

Six fire prevention officers are currently working on this forest, and they have located 32 illegal fires since June 8.

Along with the usual two 20-person hand crews and six fire engines, an extra six engines currently are stationed on the Prescott, said Rick Floch, the fire management officer for Montana's Bitterroot National Forest. He currently is filling in for Prescott Forest FMO Pete Gordon, who is away with a national firefighting team.

Air resources on the Prescott National Forest Monday were a small helicopter and one air attack group that coordinates air attacks on wildfires, but they could be called away any time.

Five of the six Bitterroot engines are helping out in Arizona right now, Floch said.

Floch has been touring all over the Prescott Forest to become more familiar with it, since he's never been here before.

One thing that he really noticed is the high number of homes built in the ponderosa pine forest of the Prescott Basin. He's never seen anything like it.

"I thought we had a problem (in Montana), but it's not anything like this," he said.

He also was amazed by the remoteness of Crown King, located about 20 miles south of Prescott deep in the Bradshaw Mountains.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Article comment by: Anita Leverenz

I lost my house to careless people (a campfire on a windy day) in the Malibu Corral Fire in 2007. People need to prepare for the financial and insurance-related impacts of calamitous events including fires, hurricanes, explosions, earthquakes, floods, thefts, and other unpredictable emergencies. IN HIND SIGHT I WISH I HAD DONE A HOME INVENTORY!

Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Article comment by: Dear: Al

You won't hear any AZ-legal fireworks, no "reports" were authorized under the law.

Here's hoping we don't see/smell too much smoke, either.

Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Article comment by: To: Beth C.

Pertaining to people throwing cigarettes out their vehicle window, there are measures to take.
Law enforcement needs license plate #, make/model vehicle, location of offense, time of offense, if possible,desciption of offender.
Additionally, you can report to, keep Arizona beautiful.
I have noticed alot of out of state license plates that were the offenders.
I know alot of people are reporting these offenses in the recent years....Thank you !!

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Article comment by: Al Adab

Meanwhile, at the old K-Mart on Willow Creek Rd sits a large tent selling fireworks. Even though they may not by law be used in town, do you want to bet how many you hear come Monday night?

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Article comment by: Timing Is Everything! _ _

To: Selling Fireworks... - Here is how our local elected officials voted on this issue (Note: Fann was not one of our elected officials at that time):
HB 2246 Regulation of Fireworks (AZ 49th legislature):
House Rep. Andrew Tobin Sr. voted NO
House Rep. Lucy Mason voted YES
Senator Steve Pierce voted YES
Again, I suggest that once we have our first major fireworks-related fire in Yavapai County that it be named the 'Pierce-Mason' fire.
Maybe once that fire occurs, Mr. Tobin or another elected official that had the sense to vote no on that terrible piece of legislation, will work to repeal it.
Maybe someday legislators will represent the citizens in their districts instead of the lobbyists and special interest groups that donate to their campaigns and buy them lunch at the State Capitol.

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Article comment by: Progressively worse

This is what happens when you have the most inept group in the history of the nation at the helm. They can't handle a single governing aspect from A to Z including land management. So they do the only thing they know how: attach the word “no” in front of everything.
The progressive party The USA gets progressively WORSE!

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Article comment by: Brad Stanley

I lost my house to careless people (a campfire on a windy day) in the Malibu Corral Fire in 2007.

I latter found out ALL insurance companies require you to provide a complete home inventory if you suffer a loss from a disaster.

Here’s a link to a DocuHome home inventory and it’s absolutely free...

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Article comment by: Selling Fireworks Is Crazy

I still cannot understand how Gov Brewer signed the Fireworks Sale Bill. This is the craziest Bill the State has passed in a long time. I live up Senator Highway and at night the last 2 weekends have heard fireworks being shot off. Will the politicians who voted for this Bill be up here helping us fight any fires that are fireworks caused. It just takes one dropped match or one spark to ignite the forests. Where were Steve Pierce, Karen Fann and Andy Tobin on this Bill? Will there be large signs posted on main roads into forested areas banning the use of all fireworks? If not, I guess I will have to make my own. It will be a long 4th of July weekend watching for flames. I have metal/tile roof, stucco house, block wall around house, cleared, cut and removed tons of leaves, branches, etc as far from the house as is possible. I want to know "How do I protect myself from fireworks caused fires??????". All Prescott residents need to keep their eyes and ears open over this weekend. We do not want to be the next Wallow Fire.

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Article comment by: Beth C

What is the recourse for people who ignorantly toss their cigarette butts out their car windows.

I see it all of the time.

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Article comment by: Colette Greenlee

As everyone knows, there are many fires destroying much of the land in our state and several families have already lost their homes or are living in community shelters. I have organized with the United Food Bank, having the Elks Opera House be a drop off location for items needed. They will be picking up donated items on a regular basis and distributing to the shelters, fire fighter posts, etc. through out this fire season. As individuals it is sometimes hard to feel like you can really make that big of a difference but as a community we certainly can!


Elks Opera House
117 E. Gurley St., Prescott, AZ 86301
Tuesday – Friday, 10:00am to 2:00pm


v Cereal (Cheerio’s, Raisin Bran, Oatmeal packets)

v Chili con Carne or Beef Stews

v Meat & Meat Alternates (canned tuna, chicken & peanut butter)

v Jellies

v Beans (pinto, kidney & refried)

v Canned Vegetables (spinach, peas, sweet potatoes, carrots)

v Milk (Canned of Dried)

v Rice and Pasta (brown rice, egg noodles, whole wheat pasta)

v Smaller sized boxes to transport goods

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something. ~Author Unknown

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Article comment by: Smart move !

I have always felt the forest should ban all fires each year from the weekend of memorial day to just after the first measurable rain of 1/4" or more.
At level 5 since June 6th, the forest should have been on a ban alot earlier.
At least they set this ban before the 4th of July weekend !

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Article comment by: Tom Steele

All the cautions and bans won't stop the idiots who start most of these fires. They are all in for their own pleasures and to hell with anyone else.
Fines and jail time are in order for anyone caught.

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Article comment by: Bill Remick

Mr. Floch-Houses in the the ponderosa forest are not a problem. The conept is called private property. Get used to it.

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