ST. GEORGE — Fire managers are taking seriously the extreme fire weather conditions prevailing in Southern Utah and northern Arizona and are implementing more stringent fire restrictions on private, state and federal land.
The stronger fire restrictions, such as disallowing all campfires, even in developed campgrounds, are being implemented with good reason. The West Valley Fire, which is currently raging about 10 miles north of St. George and has burned through more than 10,000 acres in a matter of days, was started by an abandoned campfire.
Last week, human activities accounted for about 30 fires in Utah in a period of just two days, according fire managers.
Current dry conditions are also making for especially critical fire weather, with high winds and low humidity threatening to complicate current firefighting efforts and stoke any new fires that may ignite.
Color Country Interagency fire managers, which comprise a mix of state and federal officials, will implement the advanced, “Stage II” fire restrictions starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday in Washington, Iron, Beaver, Kane and Garfield counties in Utah, and Coconino and Mojave counties in Arizona.
Areas subject to the restrictions include the following land designations:
- All unincorporated privately owned and state-administered land.
- Federal land, including areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.
- Bureau of Indian Affairs trust lands, including the Shivwits, Cedar, Indian Peaks and Kaibab Paiute Band reservations.
Incorporated towns and cities are not included in these restrictions. Restrictions vary by city and fire agency.
The Stage II restrictions prohibit the following activities:
- Igniting, building, attending or using a campfire or charcoal, coal or wood stove fire, including fires in developed campgrounds and improved sites. All debris burning is strictly prohibited. No campfires are allowed in any location until restrictions are rescinded.
- Discharging or using any kind of fireworks on unincorporated private land – always prohibited on state and federal lands.
- Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order.
- Operating a chainsaw or other motorized equipment powered by an internal combustion engine, other than motorized vehicles, between 1-10 p.m. A one-hour fire watch is required after chainsaw or other motorized equipment has shut down.
- Detonation of explosives, incendiary or chemical devices, pyrotechnics, exploding targets or tracer ammunition – always prohibited on federal land.
- Cutting, welding or grinding metal in areas of dry vegetation.
- Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or areas of a minimum of three feet in diameter cleared down to mineral soil.
The restrictions will remain in effect until rescinded by fire managers, which typically occurs after significant and widespread moisture arrives and fire danger levels subside.
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