Despite Fire Restrictions, Human-Caused Fires Still Starting In National Forests

Published: Saturday, May 23, 2020 - 11:51am

Arizona’s national forests and public lands are still seeing near record crowds, especially during the holiday weekend. Combine that with abundant dry brush, and it’s a recipe for a busy fire season.

Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Dolores Garcia says restrictions are in place statewide on public land.

"What we’re seeing out there is the grass, dry grass, from the spring and winter rains, which was abundant," Garcia said. "All BLM managed lands across Arizona have fire restrictions, which include no target shooting, no campfires, no use of welding grinders or small equipment."

So far, wildland firefighters have been able to manage human-caused wildfires and keep them relatively small — with the exception of the 1,500 acre East Desert Fire near Cave Creek. During the coronavirus pandemic, however, firefighting takes on an extra layer of risk, as firefighters often live and work in close proximity to one another while staffing fire camps. And if a fire threatens a community, evacuation centers could become hotbeds for viral spread.

"It's critically important, especially in times of COVID to protect not only our firefighters, but the communities," Garcia said. "Anytime we can protect our communities and firefighters is always going to be a good thing."

People found to have violated the fire bans could face fines and possible jail time.

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