KINGMAN - A major wildfire such as the Wallow Fire on the eastern side of the state would be an unlikely occurrence in Kingman, said Bureau of Land Management spokesman Mike Brown.
According to the Associated Press, the Wallow Fire, after burning 693 square miles and destroying 35 homes and cabins, has been called the second-largest fire in Arizona history. The largest was the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski fire that burned 732 square miles and destroyed 491 buildings.
"We don't have the same vegetation model. There are Ponderosa Pines in the Kingman area, but we don't have hundreds of square miles," he said. It would also have to be a lot drier and have a heavy amount of fuel in the Kingman area in order to create something like the Wallow Fire.
That doesn't rule out the chance of a large wildfire in the Kingman area, he said. A wildfire can start in the desert. It all depends on the type of vegetation, moisture levels and weather conditions.
Which is why the department issued fire restrictions for all public lands south and east of the Colorado River in Mohave, La Paz and Yavapai counties on Friday. The department has not closed any areas to public use but the following rules are in place:
Open campfires, charcoal grills and stove fires are generally prohibited. Campfires and charcoal grills are permitted only in developed recreation sites or improved sites where agency-built fire rings or grills are provided. Developed sites include Burro Creek, Wild Cow, Windy Point and Packsaddle campgrounds. Petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices are allowed provided they meet the fire underwriter's specifications.
Smoking will only be allowed inside buildings, motor vehicles, camp trailers or while stopped in an area at least six feet in diameter that is cleared of all flammable material.
Use of fireworks, flares or other incendiary devices are prohibited.
Welding or the use of any torch or metal cutting implement is prohibited.
The restrictions are in place until further notice.
It is important that people follow the restrictions, Brown said. BLM fire crews responded to an illegal campfire over the weekend. The fire was small and firefighters were able to contain it, but high winds and dropping moisture levels could have whipped it into some thing more, he said.
Moisture levels in the area will continue to drop as each day passes without rain, Brown said. The high winds Kingman has been experiencing over the past few days only add to the danger.
"This is the time for people to be careful," he said.
The department tries to curb the threat of wildfires by building and maintaining firebreaks, areas where heavy vegetation is cleared away on an annual basis to minimize the amount of fuel available for a wildfire, Brown said. And homeowners in the Pine Lake and Hualapai Mountain areas are very good about clearing brush and vegetation away from their homes. BLM fire crews also do prescribed burns throughout the wetter winter months in order to reduce the amount of fuel in the area, he said.
For more information on fire restrictions and ways to prevent wildfires, call the BLM at (928) 718-3700 or visit www.blm.gov/az/.
For the latest information on wildfires in the state visit the AZ Emergency Information Network at www. azein.gov.