Do Your Part To Keep The Forest Safe

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As the 10th anniversary of the Dude Fire approaches this June, concerns of another catastrophic wildfire here loom large.

The pine trees in the Tonto National Forest were as dry in March this year as they were June 25, 1990, when a lightning bolt sparked a fire near Bonita Creek that incinerated 24,000 acres of forest, 63 homes and the lives of six firefighters.

With only a few teasing showers to whet the earth's thirst for more, the forest is even drier now than it was when that fateful monsoon storm in 1990 changed things here forever.

Forest officials are nervous. They've shut down the driest parts of the Tonto National Forest to make sure careless campers or careless smokers don't cause history to repeat itself.

For campers, smokers and everyone else who plans to enjoy the open areas of the local public lands this weekend, the Forest Service is urging extreme caution.

That means no campfires anywhere - repeat, anywhere - in the higher elevations of the Tonto National Forest, including developed campgrounds.

If you simply cannot face the prospect of not having an open flame to roast your wieners, hold them over your propane stove or gas grille - both of which will be allowed. Or head south; there are no campfire restrictions in the desert portions of the forest.

Of course, when Memorial Day Weekend is over and the Tonto is once again open to one and all, that hardly negates any possible worst-case scenario which could affect everyone in Rim country.
To paraphrase the Boy Scouts of America, it wouldn't hurt to be prepared for the worst by protecting your home.

According to the American Red Cross, regularly clean your roof and gutters; inspect chimneys at least twice a year; use half-inch mesh screens beneath porches and under decks to prevent sparks from reaching combustible brush; install and regularly inspect smoke detectors on each level of your home; and keep handy household items which can be used as fire tools, such as an axe, rake, bucket and shovel.

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