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Jul 10, 2014 8:14 PM by John Patrick

Coronado National Forest lifts all fire restrictions

TUCSON - The wet start to monsoon 2014 has prompted federal forest officials to lift all campfire restrictions across Southern Arizona, starting Friday.

Regular periods of rain and increased air moisture have lessened the likelihood of a wildfire on the Coronado National Forest.

For desert dwellers looking to beat the heat it doesn't get much better than a summer camping trip to the high country. According to Tucsonan Mario Escalante, who has been camping near Rose Canyon Lake, when you can't have a fire it can put a damper on your time outdoors.

"Those's the best part of camping, able to have that fire and reminisce about old times, s'mores and tell ghost stories," says Escalante.

Over the last week many mountain ranges have received well over four inches of rain. According to Joseph and Victoria Mikesell who have been camping in the Catalinas for the last several days, they're starting to see a change.

"Things are starting to come back to life and the trees are much greener," explains Mikesell.

Fire restrictions have been in place since late April this year but according to Heidi Schewel with the Coronado National Forest, we dodged what could have been a disastrous wildfire season.

"People were careful when we into restrictions so we're doing good compared to what we could've seen," explains Schewel.

Arizona has still had nearly 1,000 wildfires this year scorching over 150,000 acres. With the monsoon comes more moisture but the opportunity to receive more lightning caused wildfires so the forest service will remain vigilant.

"We'll still have our regular personnel on and they'll be attending to what they need to attend to," says Schewel.

Campers are reminded to always practice fire safety. One less spark means one less wildfire.

• Before going hiking or camping, check with public land management agencies for fire regulations, restrictions or area closures.

• Metal fire rings or grills should be used where present. Wood placed on a fire should never exceed the size of the grill or fire ring.

• If building a fire on the ground (in areas where permitted), a location should be selected which is away from adjoining or overhanging flammable material, and the ground beneath and around the fire should be cleared of all flammable materials. On windy days fires should be avoided if possible.

• If you have a campfire, make sure it is fully extinguished before leaving the area. Fires should be doused with water and dirt and stirred with a shovel until completely cold to the touch.

• If you are using a portable stove, make sure the area is clear of grass, pine needles, leaves, and other fine fuels. Prevent stoves from tipping and starting a fire.

• Cigarettes should never be thrown out the window of a vehicle. Always use an ashtray to prevent wildfires.

• Practice Leave No Trace principles - pack out cigarette butts and burned materials from your camping area.

• Never park a vehicle over dead grass; the catalytic converter can ignite the vegetation.

• Maintain vehicle brakes, keep tires properly inflated, and shorten tow chains to prevent sparks.

• Use caution while discharging a firearm, operating an internal combustion engine, welding, or operating acetylene or other torches with an open flame, or using explosives (where permitted).

• Fireworks are always prohibited on federal lands.

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