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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
8:15 AM Mon, July 23rd

Forest closures, fire restrictions to be lifted

Restrictions to be lifted Friday, July 13; monsoon precipitation levels above normal so far

Recent monsoons in Northern Arizona have lead the U.S. Forest Service to lift the fire ban in the area. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Recent monsoons in Northern Arizona have lead the U.S. Forest Service to lift the fire ban in the area. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Due to precipitation received and predicted continued monsoon activity across the region, the Prescott National Forest (PNF) will lift all fire restrictions and the area closure on the Bradshaw Ranger District on Friday, July 13, at 8 a.m. Stage II fire restrictions went into effect on May 4, and the partial forest closure began June 1.

The following jurisdictions will also lift their fire restrictions as part of a coordinated decision made across lands with similar conditions:

• Yavapai County.

• Lands serviced by Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority (CAFMA), which includes the Town of Chino Valley, Paulden and the areas surrounding the City of Prescott such as Williamson Valley, upper Copper Basin Road and Mountain Club area, Ponderosa Park off of White Spar Road, the Senator Highway areas of Karen Drive, Sweet Acres, and Oak Knoll Village, and the areas extending south of Prescott including Government Canyon, Diamond Valley, the Town of Prescott Valley and the Town of Dewey-Humboldt.

• All lands serviced by the City of Prescott Fire Department.

“All the jurisdictions in this area like to go into fire restrictions, as well as go out of them, at the same time,” said CAFMA Fire Marshall Rick Chase. “It just makes things easier for the community as a whole.”

This decision comes at the heels of forest closures being lifted and fire restrictions being significantly reduced for the Coconino, Kaibab and Tonto national forests Wednesday morning, July 11.

Ron Sauntman, Yavapai County’s Emergency Services Manager, said this is a standard time of year to be lifting fire restrictions. (Last year’s restrictions for Yavapai County and its partnering agencies were lifted on July 17).

“Traditionally and historically it’s when the monsoon season hits, which is around this time of year,” Sauntman said.

The first 10 days of July alone, this year, provided about a quarter of 2018’s rainfall for the Prescott area. And Wednesday, July 11, brought with it even more rain — though totals from Wednesday are not included in the following tabulations.

Since January 1, Prescott has received 2.50 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service. About 0.63 inches of that was between July 1 and July 10. The normal amount of precipitation between January 1 and July 10 is 5.38 inches. And the normal amount of rain between July 1 and July 10 is 0.45 inches, so the monsoon rainfall has shown to be exceptionally generous so far.

While all fire restrictions will be lifted, the Prescott National Forest would like to remind all local residents and visitors that the potential for wildfires still exist and to please use caution with campfires and other potential ignition sources.

“On behalf of the Prescott National Forest we would like to thank our local cooperative agencies, resident neighbors, and forest visitors for their involvement and understanding throughout a very long fire severity season,” said Bradley Sorenson, PNF fire restrictions management and incident commander. “The fire restrictions and area closure that we all worked together on proved to be effective and successful. Thank you all for your contribution.”

That being said, there were a fair share of violations recorded by the Prescott National Forest since Stage II fire restrictions went into effect in the area on May 4.

Violations:

36 illegal campfires (fire not in fire ring).

One abandoned campfire.

22 closure violations (one that included smoking in closure area).

11 off-highway vehicle violations.

52 smoking violations; two open flame violations; four charcoal grill violations; two tree cutting violations; five illegal camping violations; one suspicious fire ring violation; 30 shooting violations; and two chainsaw use violations.