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Illegal Campfires Persist Despite Bans Throughout Arizona

Coconino National Forest

Forest officials in northern Arizona continue to report illegal and abandoned campfires despite bans across the state. It comes as conditions dry out and fire danger increases. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.


Coconino National Forest officials say they typically see spikes in illegal campfires during weekends as more people head to the woods. Last weekend, 15 were officially reported, but managers say there were undoubtedly more. The previous weekend, officials recorded two-dozen illegal campfires, which are banned on all six of Arizona’s national forests and many state, county and municipal lands. 

Fire crews on the Coconino respond to half-a-dozen or more wildfires a week, and so far they’ve all been stopped at about a tenth of an acre.

Officials with the Coconino and Kaibab national forests will begin Stage II fire restrictions Saturday. It bans all open flames including charcoal and wood stoves and curtails outdoor smoking. The restrictions also prohibit tools that create flames and limit the use of internal combustion equipment.

The Prescott National Forest began stage two restrictions last month.

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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