Rains Wet The Forest, Allow Campfire Restrictions To End

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Smoking and campfire restrictions were lifted Tuesday for the Tonto National Forest which surrounds Payson, and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest on the Mogollon Rim to the east.

The Coconino National Forest, on the Rim north of Payson, hasn't been subject to smoking and campfire restrictions this year.

Arizona's seasonal monsoons, which started cycling through the high country this week, have alleviated the extreme fire danger in the Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves forests with rain, higher dew points and humidity.

Sixty-four human-caused fires have been started in the forests since the restrictions were implemented May 25.

"The number of human-caused fires could have been much worse if the public had not taken responsibility for their actions, Tim Bos, forest fire management officer, said. "The fire prevention messages that we have been sending out to the media appear to have been very effective and we want to thank the public for following the fire restrictions."

Forest officials, however, caution outdoor enthusiasts to be careful with fire even though the restrictions have been lifted. Any spark can start a wildfire, officials warn, so keep campfires small and be sure the fires are dead-out before leaving the campsite; never throw lit cigarettes on the ground and be careful with any other burning materials, they said.

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