Fireworks Ignite Wednesday Blaze

Fire danger forcing restrictions

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As Tonto National Forest officials prepared to impose campfire and smoking restrictions, firefighters managed to snuff out four fires at less than two acres apiece earlier this week.

While a final determination has not been made, campfires, charcoal grills and stove fires will probably be prohibited, with smoking restricted to enclosed vehicles and buildings in a large portion of the Rim country's forests, according to Gary Roberts, Payson Ranger District fire prevention officer.

The Payson Ranger District has favored restrictions for some time, Roberts indicated, but a coordinated approach is usually taken in conjunction with other districts and forests.

"There's a system for going into restrictions, and it's not just up to this district," he said. "There's other districts involved and they try to figure out how they can do it in a uniform manner. This district usually is early in pushing for restrictions."

The largest of the four fires was reported Thursday afternoon near Gisela. It reached 1.5 acres and was human-caused.

"It's under investigation," Roberts said.

A second fire in the Gisela area broke out around 9 a.m. Wednesday.

"It was basically one acre, and it was a guy down there doing hazard reduction around his mobile home and it got away from him -- a hazard reduction that became a hazard."

A third fire was discovered about 5 a.m. Wednesday morning near the burn pit north of Payson Pines subdivision. Believed to be caused by sparklers or fireworks, the Payson Fire Department responded and extinguished the blaze at three-tenths of an acre.

A fourth fire occurred Tuesday near Christopher Creek when a transformer exploded. It was contained at one-quarter acre.

Roberts also announced that two excellent fire-wise videos, "Fire Safe Inside and Out" and "Fire Safe Landscaping" are available for loan at no cost at Planet Video, the Payson Public Library and Strawberry Market. Fifteen local real estate offices, all members of the Central Arizona Board of Realtors, also have copies of the videos.

"I consider them the best I've seen on the subject," Roberts said. "Their conditions are so similar to ours."

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