The National Weather Service has issued a RED FLAG WARNING for Thursday May 17 from 11 am to 7 pm for all of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (ASNFs) and most of eastern Arizona due to strong winds and low relative humidity. Relative humidity levels are expected to drop into the single digits and wind gusts are expected to be between 30 to 40 mph over the White Mountains and Mogollon Rim Country.
Only the National Weather Service can issue a Red Flag Warning or a Fire Weather Watch. The term Red Flag Warning is used by fire weather forecasters to alert fire personnel and the public of potential extreme and critical fire weather due to high winds and low relative humidity. Red Flag Warnings are issued when the ALL of the following criteria are met:
- Wind speeds are expected to exceed 20 mph.
- Relative humidity is 15% or lower.
- Fire danger rating of High, Very High, or Extreme.
On a RED FLAG DAY, certain activities are prohibited, because the entire ASNFs is in Stage II Fire Restrictions all activities prohibited on a Red Flag Day are already prohibited during Stage II Fire Restrictions. As a reminder:
Stage II fire restrictions prohibit the following:
- Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal, or wood stove fire. Devices fueled solely by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off are the exception. Such devices can only be used in an area that is barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the device.
- Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.
- Using an explosive.
- Discharging a firearm, except while engaged in a lawful hunt pursuant to state, federal, or tribal laws and regulations or in an agency designated shooting range.
- Possessing, discharging or using any type of firework or pyrotechnic device.
- Welding or operating acetylene or other torches with an open flame.
- Operating or using any internal combustion engines, this includes chainsaws. Generators are allowed as long as they have an approved spark arresting device and are used within an enclosed vehicle or building or in an area that is completely cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the generator.
- Possessing or using a motor vehicle off National Forest System roads, except when parking in an area devoid of vegetation within 10 feet of the roadway.
The National Weather Service predicts that windy conditions and low relative humidity is expected through Friday night. Forest visitors should use extreme caution, forests conditions are dry and fire danger is HIGH. Forest officials remind visitors that having a campfire on the national forest while under fire restrictions is a violation of law requiring a mandatory appearance in federal court, consequent fines and possibly jail time.
Also in Stage II Fire Restrictions or similar restrictions in Eastern AZ: Coconino, Apache, Navajo and Greenlee Counties, AZ State Lands, Bureau of Land Management, Coconino, Coronado and Tonto National Forests, and Fort Apache and San Carlos Apache Indian Reservations.
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