More Forest Closures, Red Flag Wildfire Warnings Across Arizona And New Mexico

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2018 - 8:58am
Updated: Thursday, May 31, 2018 - 6:52pm
The Woods Fire burning in northern Arizona on May 12, 2018.

The Prescott National Forest has become the fifth national forest in Arizona to close large areas to the public because of dangerous wildfire conditions while red flag wildfire warning go into effect in other areas of the state.

Prescott Forest spokeswoman Debbie Maneely said the closure totals 288 square miles, or about 15 percent of the entire forest.

Officials said they considered factors such as fire danger, vulnerability, things at risk and topography in making closure decisions.

The Coconino, Kaibab and Tonto forests and the jointly administered Apache-Sitgreaves forests previously closed large areas of those forests because of wildfire conditions.

Meanwhile, much of northern and western Arizona will be under a red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service for Thursday due to high temperatures and strong winds.

Communities included in the areas where the warning will apply from noon to 7 p.m. include Kingman, Flagstaff, Lake Havasu City, Holbrook, Winslow and St. Johns.

Arizona’s neighbor New Mexico is also restricting access to multiple wilderness areas in the north amid potential wildfire concerns.

The U.S. Forest Service says Santa Fe National Forest will close at 8 a.m. Friday. It's the first national forest closure for New Mexico this season.

Portions of three national park sites in New Mexico also will be off limits starting midnight Friday. The National Park Service announced backcountry within Bandelier National Monument, Pecos National Historical Park and Valles Caldera National Preserve will be closed.

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