Agencies are increasing their fire-use restrictions Wednesday, basically banning open flames anywhere in Yavapai County.
"It's dry out there, without a doubt," said Jeff Andrews, assistant fire management officer on the Prescott National Forest.
The National Weather Service is warning that critical fire weather conditions will hit northern Arizona Wednesday through Friday because of hot and windy conditions.
The region hasn't seen any significant rain since January, Andrews said. That's the last month Prescott had above-average rainfall.
By the end of May, Prescott's Sundog site had recorded only 2.69 inches of rain or 40 percent of the average.
Agencies throughout the county and region are coordinating on the increased fire restrictions Wednesday.
All fires will be banned on the Prescott, Coconino, Kaibab and Tonto national forests beginning Wednesday. The bans will continue until significant monsoon rains fall.
All shooting is banned on these national forests except for legal hunting. Smoking is allowed only inside vehicles or buildings. All internal combustion engines are banned from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
The Prescott, Central Yavapai and other local fire agencies are increasing their restrictions Wednesday, too.
All open flames will be banned in Prescott and the Central Yavapai Fire District jurisdiction, including all charcoal barbecues and wood fires whether they are covered or not, Prescott Fire Marshal Don Devendorf said. Other local fire agencies also are cooperating.
People must constantly monitor any gas barbecues. All welding requires special permits. Agencies are no longer issuing burn permits.
Prescott's Granite Creek Park has seen at least four wildfires in recent weeks because people are careless with fire around the highly flammable cotton that fell from all the cottonwood trees, Devendorf said.
"The fire potential is rather high right now," Yavapai County Emergency Management Coordinator Denny Foulk agreed.
So far this season, this region has been lucky and hasn't experienced any major wildfires.
Seeing so many people in Colorado lose their homes may be inspiring people to be especially cautious, Andrews said.
The county remains in moderate to extreme drought, with larger logs down to lower than 5 percent moisture levels, Andrews said.
The U.S. Forest Service's Prescott Fire Center has good resources available right now, including a heavy air tanker and heavy helicopter, he added.
For more information about fire restrictions across Arizona, go online to a new site called firerestrictions.us/az.
For more information on local restrictions inside Yavapai County, go online to regionalinfo-alert.org or facebook.com/ycoem.