Continued dry conditions and an increase in wildfire activity throughout Arizona have led to Stage 2 fire restrictions being put in place on May 12 by the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR).
Fire restrictions vary by agency and jurisdiction. Those that currently affect all areas under the management of these three agencies are: building, maintaining or using a fire, including a campfire or a stove that burns charcoal, coal or wood; smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building; using fireworks; discharging a firearm except while engaged in a lawful hunt pursuant to state, federal or tribal laws and regulations; welding; and the operating of any internal combustion engine. A violation of posted restrictions could result in citations, fines, jail time or reimbursement of the cost to put out the fire and rehabilitate the fire area.
For up-to-date information, contact your local land or fire management agency or fire department before you travel to your chosen destination. You may also learn about current fire restrictions and current fire situations online at: wildlandfire.az.gov.
The importance of worrying about a wildfire starting is more than just worrying about your own legal liability or immediate safety. Human-caused wildfires have made up over half of all the wildfires in Arizona, almost every year with many wildfires starting from vehicles or camping equipment, campfires and burning debris on private property. Taking the additional steps of using spark arresters on small equipment, securing tow chains, checking the condition of tires and brakes, and never pulling a vehicle off the road into dry vegetation will go a long way into making this a happy and safe summer for all.
Prepare, as well, by evaluating your own home. Reduce flammable materials around homes and communities before a fire occurs, by clearing up plant debris through raking, mowing, trimming and weeding, to create a buffer between your home and trees, shrubs and undeveloped spaces. Not only can this space help slow or stop the spread of wildfire, it also provides a safe place for firefighters to defend your home if conditions allow.
When conditions improve, fire restrictions will be reduced until all of the usual allowable activities can be continued.