National forests in Arizona reopen after wildfire closures

The Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves, Tonto, and Prescott National Forests closed due to extreme fire dangers, dry conditions and the risk of high wildfire activity, but as fires eased, the forests have been reopened.

Coconino and Kaibab National Forests reopened on July 6 with stage 2 restrictions, forest officials said.

However, Bill Williams Mountain near Williams remained closed to the public and fire restrictions remained in effect across the forest because the persistent drought in the region meant that fire danger remains high, officials said in a statement.

The Kaibab National Forest includes sections near Williams and north of the Grand Canyon.

Coconino National Forest officials also cited recent rainfall in northern Arizona led to Tuesday’s reopening with fire restrictions remaining in effect.

The Coconino National Forest includes the San Francisco Peaks overlooking Flagstaff plus areas south and southeast of the city.

The Coconino and Kaibab forests closed on June 23, and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest closed on June 24.

Apache-Sitgreaves near Springerville and the 2.8 million acre Tonto National Forest which stretches from Phoenix to northern Arizona will reopen on July 7 with stage 2 restrictions as well.

Officials say a large portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves has recently received cooler temperatures and enough rain that has reduced the risk of severe fire behavior.

The forest closed June 24 to reduce the risk to public safety due to extreme fire danger and historically dry conditions.

Tonto officials said the forest received nearly 2 inches of rain across a majority of the acreage last week.

Tonto National Forest implemented a stage 3 closure on June 25, meaning some lakes, roads, and recreation areas were accessible.

The Prescott National Forest closed to the public on June 25 at 8 a.m. Officials announced on Wednesday it has been reopened, however, stage 2 fire restrictions remain in place. A fire area closure is also in place for the Rafael and Tiger Fires.

Anyone camping in the forests was expected to vacate their campsites before the closures began, and the public was advised to cancel any plans to visit the forests.

Officials said anyone who tried to violate closure orders could face a fine of up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations. People could also face up to six months in prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Continued Coverage

Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news:

Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 10 News app. It is FREE! Download for Apple iOS or Android.