Fire Restrictions In Effect

Areas of Tonto Forest closed

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Forest officials have closed three sections of the Tonto National Forest and banned campfires even in some developed campgrounds.

A 75,000-acre strip north of Payson along Highway 87 intersecting with the Coconino and Apache-Sitgreaves forests, and a 65,000-acre area of the Pinal Mountains south of Globe were closed Wednesday.

The Sierra Ancha Wilderness Area, near the recent Coon Creek Fire, also remains closed. In all, 140,000 acres in the Tonto are closed to the public. Violators can be fined up to $10,000, sentenced to six months in jail or both.

For more information about forest restrictions, call the Payson Ranger District at 474-7900.

Closer to home

In Payson, all burning permits have been canceled until the brush fire danger in the area is reduced. Campfires and other open, outside burning is prohibited within town limits.

And beginning today (Friday) the Payson Fire Department will establish a "severity patrol." The department will staff two fire engines to patrol the Payson area and other areas of the Rim country eight hours a day for 45 days.

Payson's severity patrol, funded by a portion of the $3 million in Fire Hazard Reduction money made available to local fire departments by the state earlier this month, will:

stop violators and write citations;

educate residents and campers about fire safety in the forest;

and help lower brush fire response times.

The Payson, Diamond-Star and Pine-Strawberry fire departments are providing fire engines and firefighters for these patrols.

To the north, the Pine-Strawberry Fire District has been declared a hazardous fire area and a number of fire restrictions are now in place.

Smoking is prohibited except in an enclosed vehicle or building;

Outdoor fires, including charcoal fires, are prohibited;

Fireworks and explosives are banned, fireworks can't be discharged and the use of rockets, model planes, gliders and balloons powered with an engine or propellant is forbidden.

For more information and a full list of restrictions, call the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department at 476-4272.

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