PRESCOTT – The Prescott National Forest and City of Prescott are lifting their fire and smoking restrictions today, but Yavapai County and some rural fire departments are waiting for more rain.
The arrival of the monsoon season prompted the Prescott Forest and City of Prescott to drop their seasonal restrictions against open fires at 8 a.m. today.
Prescott Forest officials cited increased humidity and as many as two inches of rain in some areas over the last several days.
The Prescott and Coconino national forests also lifted closures on the Verde and Red Rock ranger districts that the U.S. Forest Service enacted in the Fossil Creek area east of Interstate 17 and west of the Beeline Highway during the Cave Creek Complex fire last month. The Flume trail along Fossil Creek above the Irving Power Plant will remain closed, however, while crews work to restore the area after Arizona Public Service decommissioned the power plant.
“We are fortunate to have received significant rainfall over the last several days to reduce the fire danger to a point where we feel comfortable lifting restrictions here in the Verde Valley,” said Dan Derrick, fire management officer for the Verde district of the Prescott Forest.
“A strong monsoon weather pattern is not in the forecast, although enough moisture is anticipated to significantly reduce the overall fire hazard across the forest,” added Bruce Greco, fire staff officer on the Coconino. “The number of human-caused fires is low, which indicated that public awareness is high. Since campfire and smoking restrictions were put in place on June 17, only eight human-caused fires have been reported on the Coconino National Forest.”
Many of the rural areas are facing an unusual wildfire danger this year because of all the tall grass that sprouted after heavy winter rains, said Nick Angiolillo, Yavapai County emergency management coordinator.
Several rural fire chiefs have asked county officials not to lift existing fire-use restrictions on private unincorporated lands throughout the county yet, Angiolillo said.
If the county gets fairly widespread rain this weekend and the forecast calls for more, the county will lift fire restrictions Monday, Angiolillo said.
The tall grass can dry out with just a few days of dry weather and wind, unlike heavier fuels such as pine trees, Angiolillo noted.
Rainfall totals during the past week include 1.02 inches at Goldwater Lake south of Prescott, 0.59 inches on the south side of Prescott, 0.47 inches on Sierra Prieta just west of Prescott, 0.39 inches on the northwest side of Prescott, 1.89 inches at the Prescott Valley Police Department, 1.46 inches in Chino Valley, 1.14 inches on Mingus Mountain northeast of Prescott Valley, 0.24 inches at the Williamson Valley fire station, 0.55 inches at Big Chino wash north of Paulden, 0.39 inches in Cottonwood and 0.75 inches in Sedona. All the numbers are on the Yavapai County Flood Control District’s Web site.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University recently added new Prescott weather information to the Web. People can get detailed real-time weather information from a weather station at the university by visiting http://meteo.pr.erau.edu/wx.
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