Forest: Fire bans end as rains kick in
All three national forests across northern Arizona are ending fire-use restrictions Wednesday as the monsoon rains become more widespread.
The Prescott, Coconino and Kaibab national forests all end their seasonal fire-use restrictions at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
The forests never went into stage II restrictions this year, so forest visitors always had the option of building campfires in campgrounds and picnic areas where the Forest Service charges a fee.
Prescott-area fire departments were discussing their plans Monday and could announce as soon as Tuesday whether they are ending seasonal fire-use restrictions on private lands.
The Tonto National Forest, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and State Lands Department had not announced any end to their fire-use restrictions in Arizona by press time Monday.
About half of the Bradshaw Mountains on the western half of the Prescott National Forest had seen monsoon rain by Monday afternoon, estimated Jaime Gamboa, fire management officer for the western part of the forest.
Lightning associated with monsoon thunderstorms also has ignited about seven wildfires on the forest in the past few days, he said. However, rain and high humidity helped firefighters keep all the fires smaller than an acre.
Lightning also ignited several fires on the Coconino and Kaibab forests, with at least one about 20 miles north of Flagstaff on the Coconino growing to 350 acres before firefighters contained it Monday.
Kaibab officials plan to manage the five-acre Juniper Fire for resource benefits and allow it to continue burning within a defined area 18 miles northeast of Williams.
Fire managers warn visitors to make sure their campfires are dead out before leaving them.
Rains in the Prescott area remain spotty, with the official Sundog measuring site on the northeast side of the city recording only 0.03 inches so far this month. The Sundog site set a new record-high low temperature of 71 degrees Friday, breaking the old record of 70 degrees from 1970. Records date back to 1898.
Prescott's chances for rain are increasing to 50 percent Tuesday and 60 percent Wednesday and Thursday.
Flagstaff and other parts of northern and southeastern Arizona have experienced storms that produced more than an inch of rain Sunday and Monday. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for south-central Pima and western Santa Cruz counties Monday when storms were producing nearly two inches of rainfall per hour.
Phoenix remains hot and dry, with an excessive heat warning until 8 p.m. Wednesday and only a slight chance of thunderstorms this week.