As a result of drought conditions, hot temperatures and increased fire danger, officials have announced elevated fire restrictions for the Tonto National Forest beginning Fri, May 23 at 8 a.m. The new restrictions prohibit virtually all fire or fire-causing activities in the forest. Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or charcoal-burning device is banned.
The Woods Canyon Fire on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in the Black Mesa Ranger District is currently at 88 acres and 40 percent containment. Officials say dozer and handlines have been created on the east and west sides of the fire, but crews are still battling spot fires on the north side. The fire is located about 22 miles west of Heber-Overgaard.
According to the Coconino National Forest, an approximately 20-acre Slide Fire has caused the announcement of evacuation orders for areas of Oak Creek Canyon north of Slide Rock State Park. According to the Arizona Daily Sun, Highway 89 is closed at the Oak Creek Overlook and may soon close near Ft. Tuthill in Flagstaff. The Slide Fire was reported around 4 p.m. today and is burning on the north side of the highway near Slide Rock State Park.
Traffic/Fire Alert: ADOT reports that I-17 is closed in both directions near Sunset Point north of Phoenix due to a brush fire. The freeway is closed from mile marker 254 northbound, to mile marker 262 southbound. No word yet as to the size of the fire or when I-17 may reopen. You can find more information at az511.gov or follow ADOT's Facebook page and Twitter feed (@ArizonaDOT).
As a result of increasing fire danger, the Prescott National Forest will implement Stage II fire restrictions beginning Fri, May 23. Under the restrictions, building, maintaining attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal or stove fire is prohibited. This applies to all developed campgrounds and improved sites.
Gov. Brewer has signed a bill shielding cities and towns from large settlements relating to death or serious injury of public safety employees. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the bill was inspired by the deaths of 19 firefighters last summer during the Yarnell Hill Fire.
Stage 1 fire restrictions will go into effect Thursday for the Coronado National Forest and several other sites in southern Arizona. The same restrictions are currently in place in many other parts of the state including the Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott, Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests.
The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory until 5 p.m. today for much of northern Arizona. This includes the cities of Flagstaff, Prescott, Payson and Sedona. Expect sustained winds of 20 – 35 miles per hour and gusts of 40 – 45 miles per hour. Winds should gradually decrease throughout the day. Drivers on I-40 and I-17 may experience difficulty due to the wind.
Officials with northern Arizona’s national forests are reminding the public that despite the recent moisture across the region, Stage 1 fire restrictions are still in place. This applies to the Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott, Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests. Also, Coconino County as well as the cities of Flagstaff and Prescott are still implementing their own fire restrictions.
This week’s weather forecasts are calling for warm, dry and windy conditions, which officials say will dry our forest fuels and return the area to high fire danger.
A wildfire information preparedness meeting will be held at the Eager Town Hall Tue, April 29 at 6 p.m. It will be hosted by local fire departments, the U.S. Forest Service, emergency preparedness, public health, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, and managers of the Hazardous Fuels Reduction Grant Program.