LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The U.S. Forest Service took the unusual step of closing public access to two national forests in Arizona as fire danger intensifies.
The Kaibab National Forest and the Coconino National Forest will be closed to the public as of 8 a.m. on Wednesday, with access still permitted for property holders and utility personnel. Outfitters and concessionaires will not be allowed into the forests.
The Kaibab National Forest extends northwest of Flagstaff, Ariz., north to the Grand Canyon, and on the North Rim, extending to Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
Roads from Flagstaff to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon run through the Kaibab National Forest, but no announcement has been made about restrictions to park access.
The Coconino National Forest is southeast of Flagstaff.
The closure will stay in effect until wildfire risks drop. Fines for violating the closures range up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for orgainzations, with prison terms possible.
The Forest Service said it will begin asking people to vacate campsites as soon as possible.
“The public should cancel any plans for visiting the Kaibab National Forest for the next several weeks,” according to a Monday news release.