Fire Restrictions Engulf Tonto Forest

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Campfire and smoking restrictions will be imposed throughout the entire Payson Ranger District beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Under the restrictions, campfires and charcoal burning devices are banned, and smoking is only permitted within an enclosed vehicle or building.

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Campfires like the one Chandler residents Ryan and Debbie Foster enjoyed over Memorial Day weekend will be banned throughout the entire Payson Ranger District beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Campfires are only allowed in provided campfire rings in the following established campgrounds: Houston Mesa Campground, Ponderosa Campground, Upper Tonto Campground, Christopher Creek Campground, and Sharp Creek Campground.

Chain saws, power saws, welding devices and discharging a firearm are also banned under the restrictions.

Operating a vehicle or other internal combustion-driven device without a spark arrester is also prohibited.

Although many areas in the southern half of the Tonto National Forest are also restricted or completely closed, there are no restrictions in Coconino National Forest.

For more information, call the Payson Ranger District at (928) 474-7900, the Tonto National Forest at (602) 225-5200, or check online at www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto.

Weekend fires

Three fires occurred in the Payson Ranger District over the weekend, according to Gary Roberts, district fire prevention officer:

  • The Gulch Fire started Friday and reached .1 acres before it was extinguished. It started along Highway 87 north of Rye and was caused by a tractor-trailer tire blowout.
  • The Box Fire started in a dispersed camping area at the top of Box Canyon. It was ignited Saturday by an abandoned campfire and reached .3 acres.
  • The Ellison Fire, north of the Control Road across from Ellison Creek Summer Homes, was caused by fireworks. It reached .75 acres before it was contained.

"Quite frankly, if Ellison Creek wasn't flowing as well as it was with water, it probably would have gone larger," he said.

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