Originally Published: June 15, 2016 6 a.m.
Stage I restrictions include the following:
• No burn permits will be issued.
• Use of model rockets is prohibited.
• Use of fireworks and other pyrotechnic displays are prohibited except by commercial special events permit.
• No smoking outside of vehicles, outside of residential yards, or outside of designated smoking areas.
• No outdoor use of firearms.
• Campfires, charcoal grills, and stove fires (wood, charcoal, and coal burning) are prohibited on all PNF lands, roads, and trails, except within developed recreation sites where grills and campfire rings are provided.
Stage I Fire Restrictions begin today, June 15, at 8 a.m. on the Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests in order to protect public health and reduce preventable human-caused fires.
“We’re asking all of our citizens and neighbors in the forest and those living in wooded neighborhoods to be vigilant,” said Fire Chief Pete Gordon, Prescott National Forest (PNF).
He encourages vigilance in one’s own activities, and also to report to appropriate authorities any activity that is likely to cause a fire, is an illegal activity, or any untended campfire.
Call 911 or, if one spots a wildfire out in the forest, call 928-777-5700.
A June 15 date for fire restrictions is later than most years because of precipitation received in May and early June, said Adriane Ragan, Prescott National Forest (PNF) spokeswoman. In fact, last year PNF fire managers did not issue any fire restrictions because of precipitation in June and the early arrival of monsoons.
“The timing is right, especially with record heat predicted this coming weekend,” Gordon said.
Forest managers look at key criteria when taking these restrictive actions. These include rapid drying of live and dead forest vegetation, escalating fire weather conditions, the level of firefighting resource commitments in the area, and increased forest visitor use.
Tonto National Forest issued fire restrictions on June 9; Arizona state lands in Apache County, along with Maricopa, Navajo, Gila and Coconino counties, begin Stage I restrictions today.
The Stage 1 Fire Restrictions also include the 248 square miles the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority (CAFMA) covers: Chino Valley, Paulden, areas surrounding Prescott, Prescott Valley and Dewey-Humboldt. This is consistent with PNF, BLM, Prescott Fire Department, and other fire departments in the Prescott Basin.
“As the fire danger continues to increase, our Stage II restrictions may also be put into effect as we move into our summer months. These restrictions will stay in effect until we receive significant rain throughout the area to justify lifting the restrictions,” said Central Arizona’s Fire Marshal, Rick Chase.
Forest officials also remind forest users that building and maintaining a campfire on the National Forest, while under fire restrictions, is a violation that carries a mandatory appearance in federal court.
Gordon said fire restrictions cost taxpayers’ money to enforce. Fire managers work to balance the socio-economic side of restrictions along with fire danger.
“There’s quite a bit of forest visitation where people stay on forest land camping. Some people will say, ‘Forget it. Without having a fire, we’re not camping,’” he said.
To keep track of fire restrictions issued in Arizona, visit http://firerestrictions.us/az/.