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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
8:55 PM Tue, Sept. 18th

3 forests drop all fire bans

Three of the five national forests in Arizona are dropping all of their seasonal fire-use restrictions today, but the Prescott National Forest is waiting for the monsoon to bring a little bit more widespread rain.

If National Weather Service rain forecasts for the coming days hold true, the Prescott Forest will drop all its fire-use restrictions by Monday, Fire Management Officer Curtis Heaton said.

"We're being a little conservative," Heaton said. "We had a lot of fires."

The overall fire danger on the forest Tuesday was moderate, and that's a trigger point for dropping fire-use restrictions, Heaton said.

However, while some good rains have hit the Prescott Basin and the north end of the forest, the southern part could use more, Heaton said. The Verde got its first good rain this past weekend.

The Prescott Basin sites on the forest have recorded about three inches of rain since the monsoon pattern began, while the Tiger fire area southeast of Crown King has seen only about an inch, he said.

The National Weather Service says the chance of rain in northern Arizona will gradually increase between today and the weekend. Its forecast for the Yavapai County mountains is calling for a 20-percent chance of rain today through Friday, increasing to a 40-percent chance Saturday through Monday.

The Coconino, Kaibab and Coronado national forests all drop their temporary fire restrictions today.

However, those two forests still have two area closures in effect: where the Brins fire burned in Oak Creek Canyon and the Warm fire burned on the North Kaibab.

Also Oak Creek Canyon has year-round fire-use restrictions outside of fee areas.

The Prescott National Forest still is prohibiting any campfires or smoking outside of developed recreation sites and campgrounds.

The Tonto National Forest still is prohibiting all campfires on its Pleasant Valley and Globe ranger districts, which include the campgrounds along Canyon Creek, the Young Road and the Pinal Mountains. The Tonto does allow campfires and charcoal along its lakes and rivers where it provides fire rings and pedestal grills, however.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is dropping all its fire-use restrictions today on the lands that its Safford and Tucson field offices administer in the southeastern part of Arizona.

However, the Bureau of Land Management continues its restrictions within its Phoenix District as well as its Kingman, Yuma and Lake Havasu City field offices. Yavapai County is under the jurisdiction of the Phoenix District.

The State Land Department is lifting all its fire restrictions today on state trust lands in Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Graham, Greenlee, Navajo, Pima, Pinal and Santa Cruz counties.

However, restrictions remain on trust lands in the other counties, including Yavapai, through July 31. People cannot build campfires or charcoal fires. Smoking is limited to vehicles, buildings, developed campgrounds and areas that are three feet in diameter and cleared of all flammable materials.

The State Land Department reported only two small fire starts Monday, including the half-acre Buddy fire south of Paulden that state land and Chino Valley firefighters put out.

Even when all seasonal fire restrictions are over in the state, fire officials still urge people to be careful with fire.

"People should properly extinguish cigarettes in ash trays, and ashes in a campfire ring should be cold enough to touch before they are left," Coconino Fire Staff Officer Bruce Greco said. "Campfires should be put out by drowning them with water and stirring with a stick or shovel."

Contact the reporter at jdodder@prescottaz.com