ARIZONA — The Coconino and Kaibab National Forests, located just across the Utah-Arizona border, will close to the public on Wednesday because of because of wildfire risk.
The U.S. Forest Service issued the closures due to "fire danger, dry conditions, and persistent wildfire activity during a time when firefighting resources are sparse," a press release said.
The closure means the public is prohibited from entering any part of either national forest at any time. It goes into effect Wednesday at 8 a.m.
Exceptions can be applied to those who need to access private property, utility personnel and firefighters working in the area.
Full #forest closure for the Kaibab N.F. to begin Wednesday morning, June 23 at 8 am. Details at https://t.co/Kv2EXRrp1P. Stay tuned to the KNF Alerts & Notices at https://t.co/YrqlWyIyEK and for emergency evacuations at https://t.co/1LGRm1PXCI. #Stage3 #ForestClosure @KaibabNF pic.twitter.com/Q8IzXFsKyr— Kaibab NF (@KaibabNF) June 21, 2021
abc15.com, a sister station of FOX 13, reports that there are currently at least 15 wildfires in Arizona with more than 400,000 acres actively burning, including the Rafael Fire, west of Sedona. Several of these wildfires have current evacuations in place.
Slide Rock State Park and Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, part of the Arizona State Parks system, are also closed due to nearby wildfires.
Anyone camping or visiting Coconino and Kaibab National Forests should leave before the closure goes into effect. Forest personnel will attempt to reach as many people to inform them of the closure, officials said.
Anyone with plans to visit Coconino and Kaibab National Forest over the next "several weeks" should cancel their plans, officials said. The closure will remain in place until wildfire danger subsides.
"This closure will not be rescinded until sufficient precipitation is received to adequately reduce the risk of wildfire, and hot, dry weather conditions are no longer forecast to continue," a news release said. "In short, this closure will continue until conditions are such that the closure can be lifted."
Violating the closure and fire restrictions could lead to a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, up to six months in prison, or both.