The U.S. Forest Service is enacting fire restrictions about one month earlier than normal in an effort to prevent wildfires.
State Forester Scott Hunt announced Thursday that the Arizona State Forestry Division will be implementing fire restrictions on state-owned and state-managed lands south of the Grand Canyon, including all state trust lands, all Game and Fish Wildlife areas, all state parks and all Department of Transportation highway right-of-way property not owned by federal land management agencies. It will go into effect at noon on Friday, April 18.
Campfire and smoking restrictions will take effect at 8 a.m. Friday on the Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto National Forests. The same restrictions will start at 8 a.m. on Tuesday for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
"We are seeing conditions on the forests that warrant going into fire restrictions earlier than usual," said Coconino National Forest supervisor Earl Stewart. "We could have a long fire season ahead of us, and we need members of the public to work with us to prevent human-caused starts."
An ongoing drought has left the state even more vulnerable to wildfires. Nearly 270 wildfires have charred about 1,000 acres across Arizona this year. Most of those are small and human caused.
On the Kaibab National Forest, restrictions will apply only to the Williams and Tusayan Ranger Districts. Fire restrictions will not yet be implemented on the North Kaibab Ranger District due to different weather and fuels conditions, according to a statement.
Under the restrictions, fires, campfires, charcoal, coal and wood stoves are allowed in developed campgrounds only.
The restrictions also limit smoking to within enclosed vehicles or buildings, or in developed campgrounds.
In areas that are clear of flammable materials, it's OK to use a device that is solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off. Fireworks are always prohibited on all national forest lands.
On the Prescott National Forest, campfires are not allowed at the designated dispersed sites within the Prescott Basin.
Fireworks are prohibited on all national forest lands.
Fire restrictions will remain in effect until the forests receive significant precipitation.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.