Originally Published: June 28, 2011 9:55 p.m.
The Central Yavapai Fire District is joining other jurisdictions in ramping up its fire-use restrictions today - a critical fire weather day and historically a bad fire day for the Prescott National Forest.
All open fires, spark-producing equipment and fireworks - including novelty sparklers available in grocery stores - are now illegal anywhere in Yavapai County.
Even though some temporary tent businesses are selling consumer-rated fireworks for the first time in recent memory, local jurisdictions have banned their use, and fireworks always are illegal on federal and state lands. With Level II restrictions now in effect, even novelty sparklers are banned.
While people can use gas for holiday backyard barbecues, they can't use coal anymore in the greater Prescott region.
The 1979 Castle fire, 1994 Castle fire and 2006 Tiger fire all ignited coincidentally on June 29 in the same region of the Prescott Forest southeast of Crown King. The Tiger fire merged with the Rock Hill fire and forced the evacuation of Crown King, about 20 miles south of Prescott. Rain stopped it just in time the next day. Lightning ignited all four of those fires.
Several huge fires are burning in Arizona and New Mexico as the Las Conchas blaze threatens the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the city of Los Alamos, which have been evacuated.
The fire danger on the Prescott National Forest jumped to extreme Monday and Tuesday.
Prescott has a slight chance for thunderstorms today, then again on Saturday and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
But mostly the region is facing unusually windy weather alongside increasing heat, prompting the Weather Service on Tuesday to issue both a wind advisory and fire weather watch for today.
The wind advisory covers much of northern Arizona from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the possibility of sustained winds of 20-30 mph and gusts reaching 40-50 mph.
The fire weather watch also covers much of northern and central Arizona all day today, because of high winds and low humidity. The watch, which means critical fire weather conditions exist, could turn into a red-flag warning today.
Following are examples of the fire-use restrictions in various local jurisdictions:
Prescott, Coconino and other national forests in Arizona - No fires, no smoking outside enclosed vehicles or buildings, no shooting of firearms, no welding or other torches, no explosives, no fireworks, no chainsaws between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., and people must clear a 5-10 foot area at other times. The Apache and Coronado national forests are closed because of large wildfires.
City of Prescott and Central Yavapai Fire District (covering 160 square miles including Prescott Valley, Dewey-Humboldt and unincorporated areas around the Prescott region) - No fires or flame-producing items, no fireworks, no smoking outside vehicles or yards or designated smoking areas, no spark-producing equipment without special permission and propane barbecues must be constantly attended.
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.