Starting today, campers will only be allowed to roast marshmallows over a campfire if they are staying in a developed campground in the Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto National Forests.
In coordination with the U.S. Forest Service, the Town of Payson’s fire restrictions will also go into effect today, effectively banning any open flames in town.
The Forest Service says due to an extremely dry winter and long-term drought conditions, fire restrictions are starting earlier this year.
“We could have a long fire season ahead of us and we need members of the public to work with us to prevent human-caused starts,” said Earl Stewart, Coconino National Forest supervisor.
Already there have been several wildland fires in the state, most exhibiting extreme fire behavior.
Under the Forest Service fire restrictions, which began at 8 a.m. today, fires, campfires, charcoal, coal and wood stoves are only allowed in developed campgrounds. Smoking is limited to within enclosed vehicles, buildings or developed campgrounds. Using a device fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels is allowed in areas clear of flammable materials.
Fireworks are always prohibited on all national forest lands.
In town, all fires are prohibited and burn permits are suspended. Residents can still use outdoor grills for cooking.
On the Prescott National Forest, campfires are not allowed at dispersed camping sites within the Prescott Basin.
On the Kaibab National Forest, restrictions will apply to the Williams and Tusayan Ranger Districts, but not the North Kaibab Ranger District due to different weather and fuels conditions.
In Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, fire restrictions will start Tuesday.
“Drier than normal conditions on the forests warrant going into fire restrictions earlier than usual,” said Jim Zornes, Apache-Sitgreaves forest supervisor.
“Our neighboring forests already have had some significant fires with behavior that is unusual for April, and we need members of the public to work with us to prevent human-caused starts.”
The Forest Service looks at weather, fuel moisture, fire activity levels and available firefighting resources when determining when to implement fire restrictions.
Restrictions will remain in effect until the forests receive significant precipitation.