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When it’s summer in the Southwest, wildfires are always a risk you have to consider. However, experts are predicting a particularly active wildfire season in Arizona and southern Utah this year. Because there was very little precipitation during the winter–as many as 120 consecutive dry days in some places–drought conditions are prevalent throughout the region, which makes it easy to spark a wildfire. To make the situation even worse, the drought was preceded by an unusually heavy monsoon season, which means there is a lot of fuel to burn.

As expected, the summer wildfire season in Arizona got off to an early start in April, with multiple fires burning throughout the state. Perhaps the most notable was the Tinder Fire, which was sparked by an illegal campfire and ultimately destroyed 33 homes. In response to the fires, officials put most of the Stage 2 fire restrictions across much of the state–a move they don’t usually make til June.

Abiding by Stage 2 Fire Restrictions at RV-Friendly Campgrounds

As an RV traveler in the Southwest, it is important to be aware of the high level of fire danger and the restrictions you must follow when you’re camping. Here’s what you need to know about Stage 2 Fire restrictions, which are currently in place throughout most of Arizona and southern Utah:

  • Campfires are strictly prohibited.
  • You can’t use a torch with an open flame.
  • You can’t use a chainsaw with an internal combustion engine between 9am and 8pm.
  • You CAN use gas stoves, lanterns, and other heating devices, as long as they have a switch that makes it possible to immediately cut off the flame.

It is important to note that some areas may be closed due to fire danger, so you’ll need to avoid these locations altogether. For up-to-date information on closures and restriction levels in Arizona, check out the following website:

https://firerestrictions.us/az/

Making the Most of a Challenging Situation

Campfires can be one of the most memorable aspects of your RV experience, so it can be disappointing to find out about the widespread Stage 2 fire restrictions in the Southwest this year–but you can still enjoy your night at the campground! Here are a few alternatives to consider.

  • Gather around a lava lamp. Battery-powered lava lamps are small, cheap, pose relatively little fire danger, and can replace a campfire as a centerpiece for good company and good conversation.
  • Make campfire-free s’mores. You won’t be able to char your marshmallows, but you can warm them on a gas or electric stove without an open flame. If your chocolate is taking too long to melt, consider spreading Nutella or chocolate cookie butter on your graham crackers instead.
  • Take up stargazing. Instead of staring at sparks in the fire, enjoy the opportunity to look up at the stars!

For more RV travel tips for the summer, check out the other articles and resources from Safe RV Storage!