Human-Caused Fire Burns Despite Forest Closures, Restrictions

Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 4:49pm
Courtesy of Coconino National Forest
The Sycamore Fire has burned 230 acres of wilderness west of Sycamore Canyon in the Prescott National Forest.

Lookouts reported a human-caused fire Monday outside Sedona, despite the fact that Arizona has closed more public land and issued more fire restrictions than any other state. The fire has grown to 230 acres and is 25 percent contained.

Helicopters are flying in firefighters to the rugged wilderness area west of Sycamore Canyon in the Prescott National Forest. About 100 firefighters are working to control the blaze both from the ground and the air.

Forest spokeswoman Debbie Maneely said the fire is still under investigation, but we do know it was human caused in an area under restrictions.

"We want to remind our visitors of all our national forests in Arizona you're not supposed to be in any closure area," Maneely said. "And outside closure areas we're in Stage II fire restrictions, so that's no open flames — no campfires, no smoking, no charcoal, no wood."

Portions of the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab and Tonto National Forests are closed, and Prescott plans to close part of its forest this week. Forest closures are rare. In 2006 Coconino shut down its entire forest due to concerns about wildfires.

"This year is arguably one of the highest years for fire danger," said Rich Naden, a fire weather meteorologist for the Southwest Coordination Center. "We had a very dry winter, late fall, winter and spring with very few episodes of moisture."

And he said it's going to get worse before it gets better.

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