Fire restrictions remain for July 4th holiday weekend

Fire restrictions remain for July 4th holiday weekend

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - An attempt to escape the heat in higher elevations comes with a warning this holiday weekend.

Tucson's hottest June on record is leading fire officials to keep fire restrictions in place on public lands through the July 4th holiday.

And if the more than five wildfires burning in southern Arizona weren't enough of a sign of the danger, it's spelled out in plain terms as you drive up Catalina Highway toward Mt. Lemmon. A fire danger message appears on both an Arizona Department of Transportation electronic sign at the base of the mountain, and a Smokey Bear "high fire danger" warning sign on the drive up.

Both signs scream for people to take an abundance of caution.

"It's going to be hot," Coronado National Forest spokeswoman Heidi Schewel said. "It's really imperative for people to pay attention to those restrictions. They're there for a reason."

Schewel is expecting, as is usual this time of the year, that the cooler temperature camp sites will be full for the holiday weekend. But with no rain expected, and very little having fallen in the recent months, it's more opportunity for dangerous flare-ups.

According to the U.S. Forest Service website, Stage 2 fire restrictions are in place, so campfires and smoking are prohibited.

Fireworks are illegal year-round on all National Forest lands.

Enforcing those rules will take extra effort from Schewel and her fellow staff members.

"It's more work for our people to do, making sure that people recreate safely and they enjoy themselves, but also are responsible as far as the resources
go," she said.

The dry conditions will be enough to make Rose Canyon Lake campground hosts like Bud Webb nervous.

"We'll be full," he said, hoping that people are informed. In his mind, a lack of knowledge is a dangerous opportunity for flare-ups.

But even the most novice of campers are staying informed of the rules.

"It affects a lot of people where we have to bring our own grills and propane stuff. It stinks where we can't have our own classic campfire at night," Justice Morales said.

He left the Tucson heat to come up to the Rose Canyon Lake area, where temperatures are about 20 degrees cooler than the valley floor.

The fire restrictions forced him to adjust his packing list before leaving Tucson, knowing it's the price he had to pay for safe fun.

"If you want a nice place like this to come camping again, you've got to respect the rules," he said.

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