On Friday, four area national forests will implement Stage 1 campfire and smoking restrictions in an attempt to lessen the danger of human-caused wildfire. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it’s the earliest the bans have gone into effect in almost 10 years.
Extremely dry fuel combined with little chance of rain over the next few weeks has prompted officials to put the restrictions in place. The announcement comes just days after crews contained the 175-acre Fisher Fire southeast of Flagstaff. The Coconino National Forest has confirmed that the fire was human caused.
The cites of Flagstaff and Prescott will also enact their own fire restrictions Friday. Don Muise is the fire and aviation staff officer on the Coconino National Forest.
“Campfires are probably the one that we can control the easiest and manage and still allow folks to be out in the woods and recreate. We do always have people that either on purpose or just didn’t know better continue to have campfires and we will respond to those accordingly,” he says.
The Stage 1 restrictions apply to the Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto national forests. Campfires as well as charcoal and wood stoves will be limited to developed campgrounds. Also, smoking is only allowed in campgrounds, enclosed buildings and vehicles.
If dry conditions continue, officials could implement further restrictions followed by partial or full-forest closures. Last year, the first round of campfire restrictions went into effect in late May.