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National forests across Arizona impose campfire restrictions

April 22, 2020 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — All six national forests around Arizona are imposing campfire restrictions that officials say are intended to protect the health and safety of employees and communities during the coronavirus outbreak.

The restrictions announced by U.S. Forest Service officials for the Southwest Region took effect Tuesday and apply through June 30. That’s typically about when the summer monsoon arrives and reduces the wildfire threat.

The regional office based in Albuquerque previously imposed a similar campfire prohibition for national forests and national grasslands in New Mexico.

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In Arizona, the prohibition applies to the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Coronado, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto forests.

Agency officials said they’re taking the step to prevent the drawdown of fire and medical resources to unwanted human-caused wildfires and to reduce firefighter exposure to COVID-19.

“While we know that going outside provides forest and grassland visitors needed space, exercise and satisfaction, we are taking the risks presented by COVID-19 seriously,” said Elaine Kohrman, acting regional forester.

Violating the campfire restriction may result in an appearance in federal court, fines and possible jail time.

Forest officials said most of the national forests in Arizona remain open for recreation while the restrictions are in place.