Fire restrictions to go into effect soon on Navajo Nation

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation is anticipated to start Stage 1 fire restrictions this week due to high fire danger and severe to extreme drought on the tribal land.

The Navajo Forestry Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs Wildland Fire Management issued a public service announcement last week to warn residents on the tribal land about the upcoming restrictions.

"These restrictions prohibit building, maintaining, attending or using fires in undesignated areas including camp, charcoal or wood fires," the PSA states. "Any and all debris burning will also be prohibited. Outdoor smoking is permitted only within an enclosed vehicle."

Navajo Forestry Department Manager Alex Becenti said his department anticipates tribal President Jonathan Nez will sign the executive order to implement fire restrictions by May 24.

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Fire activity from the Wood Springs 2 fire is seen on July 1, 2020 near Sawmill, Arizona. Because of severe to extreme drought on the Navajo Nation, the tribe will implement fire restrictions as early as May 24.

According to Becenti, the executive order will be similar to the one issued last year.

The executive order details prohibited and permitted fire activities and which activities require the use of extreme caution.

After the restrictions are in place, "firefighters may be called upon to extinguish all fires, and fines may be issued by a Division of Natural Resources law enforcement officer and/or the Navajo Nation Police Department," the PSA states.

"The Southwest is in the midst of high fire danger with numerous large wildfires on the landscape in Arizona and New Mexico, and these restrictions are considered necessary to reduce the possibility of large wildfires that could potentially impact homes and natural resources within the Navajo Nation," the PSA states.

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An air tanker drops fire retardant on the Wood Springs 2 fire on June 29, 2020 near Nazlini, Arizona. Because of severe to extreme drought on the Navajo Nation, the tribe will implement fire restrictions as early as May 24.

In northern New Mexico, the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon fires have burned 311,116 acres and the combined blaze is at 40% containment as of May 23, according to the Inciweb fire information website.

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

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