Restrictions on campfires, smoking and related activities will be extended tomorrow (Wednesday) at 8 a.m. to include all of Tonto, Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino and Prescott national forests.
Restrictions also will be imposed at that time on portions of the Kaibab National Forest, while the Coronado National Forest will remain free of restrictions for the time being.
Specifically, the restrictions include:
- Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or charcoal burning device;
- Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area that is barren or cleared of all flammable material within a three-foot radius;
- Operating any internal combustion engine-driven power saw, dredge, or similar power equipment;
- Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame;
- Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device;
- Discharging a firearm, except persons taking game in accordance with Arizona hunting laws.
Where restrictions apply, gas-fueled stoves, lanterns and heating devices are allowed. Inside the restricted areas, campfires on the Tonto National Forest are allowed only in provided campfire rings in specified Forest Service fee campgrounds. In the Payson Ranger District, those campgrounds are Houston Mesa Campground, Ponderosa Campground, Upper Tonto Creek Campground, Christopher Creek Campground and Sharp Creek Campground.
A forest closure in the Pine-Strawberry area that was implemented May 20 remains in effect. The area included in the closure is bordered by Control Road 64 and Tonto Natural Bridge Road to the south, the power lines running from the bridge road to the Irving Power Plant to the west, the Rim to the north, and Webber Creek to the east.
All activities on Forest Service lands under closure are prohibited, including hiking, riding horses, hunting, camping, building a campfire, or operating a motorized vehicle. Exceptions include residents who live within the closure area or their invitees and government officials in the performance of official duties.
Portions of the Apache-Sitgreaves and Coconino national forests also are closed. For detailed information on fire restrictions and area closures, contact the individual forests, go to www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire, or call (877) 864-6985.
Two fires were extinguished in the Rim country over the weekend.
The largest started about 7 p.m. Saturday in the old Lower Tonto Creek Campground at Highway 260 and Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery Road. It reached an acre in size before Christopher-Kohl's Fire Department and Forest Service firefighters put it out, according to Gary Roberts, Payson Ranger District fire prevention officer.
"We don't know the cause, but you can pretty much assume it was human-caused," Roberts said.
The second fire, also suspected to be human-caused, was extinguished by passersby. It was located off Highway 87 at East Verde Park Estates.
"No matter how small a fire is, we call it one-tenth acre and that was a tiny tenth," Roberts said. "But thank goodness people were alert and got on it."