St. Johns, AZ- On Monday, August 14, 2023, the White Mountain Fire Coordinating Group met to discuss the current fire restrictions. Upon review of current conditions, it was determined that the unincorporated areas of Apache and Navajo Counties, the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside, the towns of Taylor and Snowflake, Eagar, Springerville as well as the City of Show Low and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests will rescind all fire restrictions beginning Tuesday, August 15, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.
The decision to rescind fire restrictions included the analysis of several key data points including the energy release components (ERC) of the fuels in the region. The ERC is valuable in determining fire danger because it acts as a fuel moisture index for all types of live and dead fuels. It tells fire managers how hot and fast the fuels will burn. The ERC’s are now in approximately the 50th percentile which is a good indicator of the fuel moisture content. Another key data set is the number of fires (human or natural caused) throughout the region, which have been minimal in previous weeks. In addition, the 6 to 10- day and monthly weather outlooks are also a deciding factor in restrictions and the projected weather forecast is for monsoon activity to continue across North Eastern Arizona for the rest of the week. Finally, the group also assesses the availability of resources that would be called upon should a fire start. Most, if not all, of our local resources that have been sent to other areas to combat fires, have or are returning to their home base locations. Additionally, the USFS has a task force stationed in Lakeside as well as a large number of available federal resources. Further, the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management as well as the BIA Fort Apache Agency have access to additional resources.
All these pieces come together to form the deciding factors in entering or lifting fire restrictions and is a coordinated, regional effort. That being said, even with increased moisture across the region and more forecast in the future, it is imperative that our community members and visitors stay vigilant and follow good land stewardship practices that will ensure our forests, homes and businesses are protected year-round. Therefore, we ask that our residents and visitors continue to practice fire safety with campfires and debris burning. Never leave a fire of any kind unattended. When extinguishing any fire, be sure to drown it with water, stir the water in, and feel the area with the back of your hand for any heat, repeating as necessary to ensure the fire is completely out.
The White Mountain Fire Coordinating Group would like to thank all of our residents and visitors for their compliance to fire restrictions, together we are able to keep our communities safer.
Please continue to follow the Apache County Emergency Management and Preparedness Facebook page as well as the Navajo County Emergency Management and Preparedness Facebook page and 311info.net for updates on fire restrictions and other pertinent, vetted information pertaining to local hazards and preparedness.