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FARMINGTON — Recent fires in Gadii'ahi and San Juan chapters have prompted authorities to seek information from the public.

Two alerts that appeared Monday on the BIA Wildland Fire Management Navajo Region Facebook page asked people to submit anonymous tips about arson in the chapters.

The first fire started at about 6 p.m. on June 5 and burned three acres in an area between San Juan and Nenahnezad chapters.

In Gadii'ahi, three fires occurred between June 8 and June 10.

The alert states the fires begin at approximately 10 a.m., 9:39 a.m. and 1:38 p.m. on U.S. Highway 64 and the turnoff to the community.

"These fires are a threat to public health and safety, putting you, the public and emergency resources at risk and are damaging your natural and cultural resources," the alert states.

Chantel Herrick, public information officer for the Navajo Region for BIA Wildland Fire Management, said today investigators are treating the fires as arson due to accessibility to the locations and the recurrence, especially in the case of Gadii'ahi.

The BIA Navajo Region and chapter officials have partnered with WeTip to receive information from the public or for people to submit anonymous tips at 800-472-7766.

WeTip is a national nonprofit organization the BIA has teamed with to receive information about suspicious wildfires that occur on or near tribal lands.

The Navajo Nation upgraded its fire restrictions from Stage 1 to Stage 2 on Monday, based on the recommendation by the Navajo Forestry Department, the BIA Navajo Region, and the BIA Wildland Fire and Aviation Program.

The restrictions were imposed throughout tribal land due to high fire danger caused by a combination of inadequate precipitation, high wind conditions, high temperatures and low humidity.

They prohibit the possession, manufacturing, sale or use of fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices, the burning of trash or fields and all campfires, warming fires, wood burning and charcoal fires, and charcoal barbecues.

Also prohibited are using of firearms or incendiary devices without valid permits and operating chainsaws or other internal combustion engines between 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

People are advised to use extreme caution when smoking, and it is recommended to smoke in permitted areas or enclosed vehicles.

There are not restrictions for approved public fireworks displays and for ceremonial fires that are registered and permitted by the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency.

Individuals or parties found guilty of violating any provision of the Stage 2 restrictions could be fined up to $5,000.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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