Fire restrictions rescinded in areas of Navajo and Apache counties as well as the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests

St. Johns, AZ- On Wednesday, June 22, 2022, the White Mountain Fire Coordinating Group met to discuss the current fire restrictions and monsoonal rains.   

Beginning Friday, June 24, 2022, 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.

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 have fallen well below the 90th percentile and are now in approximately the 50th percentile which is a good indicator of the fuel moisture content. In comparison, the ERC’s peaked toward the end of May over the 97th percentile which was one of the leading reasons for entering Stage 2 restrictions.  Another key data set is the number of fires (human or natural caused) throughout the region, which have been at record lows this year.

In addition, the projected weather forecast is for ample monsoon activity to be widespread across Northern Arizona with the daily minimum RH values (relative humidity) in the 30-45 percent range in the White Mountain Region, with maximum afternoon daily wind gusts no more than 20 mph. The 6 to 10-day and monthly weather outlooks are also a deciding factor in restrictions.  These data sets are forecasted to be above normal chances for precipitation and below normal temperatures for this time of year.

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 of these pieces come together to form the deciding factors in entering or lifting fire restrictions and is a coordinated regional effort. “We follow the science and the data, and the data is telling us it is time to lift restrictions,” said Chief McCluskey of Heber-Overgaard Fire.

“That being said, even with having received some much-needed moisture 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. 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.  Further, at no time should you ever leave a fire of any kind unattended,” stated Catrina Jenkins, Navajo County Emergency Manager.

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 for updates on fire restrictions and other pertinent, vetted information pertaining to local hazards and preparedness.

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