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Heightened wildfire threat prompts stricter restrictions

Destructive Southwest fires have burned dozens of homes in northern Arizona and put small New Mexico villages in the path of flames.
Posted at 12:11 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 15:22:55-04

ARIZONA (AP) — Arizona's six national forests and some local governments and land management agencies are implementing stricter campfire and smoking restrictions because of the heightened wildfire threat, officials announced Tuesday.

Heightened restrictions ordered by the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Coronado, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto national forests take effect either Wednesday or Thursday, officials said.

Along with restricting campfires and smoking, the forests’ heightened restrictions prohibit or impose limits on activities such as shooting, welding, using chain saws, running generators and driving motor vehicles off roads.

“The restrictions are necessary to reduce human-caused wildfires during periods of high fire danger and persistent severe fire conditions," according to a statement by the Apache-Sitgreaves forests.

Other jurisdictions implementing stricter fire restrictions this week include the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, the city of Flagstaff and federal Bureau of Land Management units in southern Arizona.

In rural southeastern Arizona, winds and warmer temperatures were expected to challenge crews trying to protect power lines and scattered homes from a wildfire that has burned six square miles (16 square kilometers) of grass and brush near Elgin in eastern Santa Cruz County.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. It started Monday.