Fire restrictions for Arizona national forests begin May 5

Fire restrictions for several national forests in northern Arizona begin Thursday morning.

Stage 1 fire restrictions for the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab, and Tonto National Forests begin at 8 a.m. The restrictions will also be in effect on the Williams and Tusayan districts of the Kaibab National Forest

The city of Flagstaff will also enter Stage 1 fire restrictions at the same time.

The restrictions mean campfires are only allowed within developed campsites or picnic areas. Smoking is prohibited, except in an enclosed vehicle. Fireworks and target shooting are always prohibited in national forests.

The increased fire danger is due to insufficient moisture and dry fuel conditions across the forest and the restrictions reduce unwanted human-caused fires, the Apache-Sitgreaves forests said in a statement.

Violations of fire restrictions could result in fines or jail time.

Southeastern Arizona’s Coronado National Forest, which often implements fire restrictions later than other forests in the state, is not currently under any restrictions, Coronado spokesperson Starr Farrell said.

MORE: Fire restrictions explained

"Fire restrictions are implemented to help prevent human-caused fires and to limit the exposure of visitors during periods of potentially dangerous fire conditions," officials said.

The restrictions typically stay in place until the beginning of monsoon season.

Below-average precipitation in January through April has allowed abnormally dry conditions to continue across northern Arizona, the National Weather Service’s Flagstaff office said in a May update to its wildfire season outlook.

The odds are tilted toward warmer than average conditions this summer but also a monsoon wetter than average most of the summer, meteorologist Tony Merriman said.

Wildfires have become a year-round threat in the drought-stricken West — moving faster and burning hotter due to climate change, scientists and fire experts have said. Fire officials also point to overgrown areas where vegetation can worsen wildfire conditions.

More information: wildlandfire.az.gov/fire-restrictions

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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