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Critical Fire Conditions In Effect For Northern Arizona

This state map illustrates areas of high fire danger.
(Photo by Carrie Jung-KJZZ)
This state map illustrates areas of high fire danger.

The official start of the monsoon season is June 15. A Red Flag Fire Warning is already in effect for Northern Arizona, according to the National Weather Service.

A combination of high winds, low relative humidity, and dry lightning means the risk of fire is high.

Holly Kleindienst, Deputy Fire Staff for the Kaibab National Forest, said this warning will affect anyone visiting National Forests.

"Most of us are in Stage 2 fire restrictions, which means they are not allowed to have a campfire of any kind. They are also limited in the use of anything with an internal combustion motor such as a chainsaw or anything like that," Kleindienst said.

These restrictions are posted at all of the offices, major trailheads, and on electronic signs upon entering forest service land. Failure to comply with these restrictions can be fatal, but so far this year Kleindienst said campers have been doing their part.

"We've found that we generally have very very high compliance with our fire restrictions," she said. "We've been really impressed this year with the compliance we've gotten. We've gotten very few starts from people who have not followed our fire restrictions."

A "start" is any spark that could quickly grow into a fire. Campers are not the only ones who need to pay attention.

"Across Arizona we're experiencing abnormally dry conditions. A lot of folks are at very high fire danger already, or have transitioned to extreme fire behavior and we need them to be careful with anything that they do," Kleindienst said.

Sparks can originate almost anywhere -- poorly maintained brakes, a tire blowout, pulling off the road into high grass, or dragging chains could create a spark that could easily turn into a deadly fire.

Rachel Lund is a graduate student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, a life-long NPR junkie, aunt extraordinaire, puppy mother and college football enthusiast.