Extreme fire danger leads to Tonto National Forest closures

PHOENIX (AP) — Many sections of the Tonto National Forest will be closed starting 6 a.m. Thursday because of extreme fire danger due to dry conditions.

The closures will remain in effect until July 30 unless rescinded or extended.

Taiga Rohrer, Tonto’s fire management officer, said new fire starts have become increasingly difficult to control and the closure is the best option to deal with the fire danger conditions.

Authorities said wildfires have burned more than 350 square miles (906 square kilometers) of the forest already this year, caused by vehicle fires, sparks from tow chains or flat tires.

They said hot temperatures following a wet winter has produced an abundance of dry brush and grass in the forest.

The closure means all National Forest System lands contained within the Tonto are closed to the public except some of the popular recreation sites and tourist destinations such as Roosevelt Lake, Bartlett Reservoir, Canyon Lake, Saguaro Lake and Lower Salt River plus the Tortilla Flat Restaurant and Roosevelt Lakeview Mobile Home Park.