Fire restrictions will go into effect later this week on forests throughout northern Arizona. It comes as the region grapples with record drought amid its driest and warmest months of the year. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.
The Coconino, Kaibab, Tonto and Prescott national forests will enter stage one fire restrictions Friday at 8 a.m. Officials with the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests implemented the ban last week.
The orders limit all fires, charcoal and wood stoves to established recreation sites, and smoking will only be allowed in developed areas.
"We’re seeing high visitor use. We’re discovering lots of abandoned campfires and then the weather is just getting hotter and drier. Our indices – you know, we’re going to be in very high fire danger by the end of the week," says Jeremy Human, deputy fire staff officer for the Coconino National Forest.
He says Coconino officials have discovered 58 abandoned campfires since mid-March. He expects a total ban on all fires to eventually be implemented.
Coconino County and the City of Flagstaff will also begin restrictions Friday.
Much of the state remains in an exceptional drought following two years of limited annual monsoon rains and winter precipitation. Wildfires scorched almost a million acres of federal, state and tribal land in 2020, making it Arizona’s second most severe fire season on record.