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National Forests Report a Surge in Abandoned Campfires Over Holiday Weekend

There was a surge in the number of abandoned campfires over the holiday weekend, according to National Forest officials. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Coconino National Forest personnel found 78 unattended fires between Saturday and Monday. During non-holiday summer weekends, that number is usually about 20. Crews also extinguished three small wildfires in undeveloped campsites.

Brady Smith is a spokesman with the Coconino.

"We’re always dealing with abandoned campfires but especially during holiday weekends. Seventy eight does sound like a lot, but considering probably the thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people that recreate and camp, that’s probably a small amount."

The Prescott National Forest reported 27 abandoned campfires—more than six times the weekend average. The Kaibab and Apache-Sitgreaves also reported increases with about a dozen each.

So far the Tonto and the Coronado are the only national forests in Arizona to begin fire restrictions, but Prescott will start a ban Thursday.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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