Tue, July 16

Prescott Forest reopens

The 1,365 acres that the Indian Fire burned remain closed to the public, including the Indian Creek campground. The area still is dangerous to enter, with burned trees falling and concealed large holes with burning roots. Officials also are conducting rehabilitation work there, including cutting down blackened trees.

The Mingus Mountain campground also is closed, because officials were in the midst of remodeling it when the agency put a hold on projects to funnel more money to firefighting.

Forest officials, burned out themselves with long workweeks patrolling the forest, are as glad as everyone else to see the forest re-open. Most of their regular work has been on hold since May 24, when the forest closed completely for the first time in history because of unprecedented wildfire danger.

Permit holders such as the summer camp operators are anxious, too, officials said. They began notifying the permittees Tuesday about the imminent opening.

Forest officials haven't set a date when they might drop more fire restrictions.

"If it keeps raining, we could just go out of all the restrictions in the near future," chief law enforcement officer Jon Shumate said.

Elsewhere in Arizona, the Coronado National Forest reopened Thursday, the Tonto opened Friday, and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest re-opened except in the 469,000-acre Rodeo-Chediski Fire area. The Coconino and the two Kaibab districts south of Grand Canyon National Park re-opened Saturday.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management also has re-opened most of the land it manages in Arizona, including all of it within Yavapai County such as the Agua Fria National Monument.

Most of these areas continue to have fire restrictions.

For more information about closures and fire restrictions on all public lands in Arizona, visit the Arizona Fire Information Web site at, or call 877-864-6985 toll free.

While the summer rains and humidity have temporarily reduced the chance for out-of-control wildfires, Arizona still is in the midst of a long-term drought cycle that could continue for decades, Weather Service forecasters say.

"People need to realize that just because we're getting rain right now, that doesn't mean we're out of the woods," Morales said. "Next year could be worse."

So fire officials continue to urge people to reduce the chances of their homes burning, by thinning out trees and brush.