A dry winter and a wet spring followed by rising temperatures has created dangerous wildfire conditions across western Nevada.
Because of that, area land managers announced fire restrictions on public lands will be imposed beginning Friday at midnight.
"It's earlier than usual by quite a bit," Leonard Wehking, a BLM fire management officer, said of the restrictions.
"It turned hot real quick, and some of our scientific data says we're right where we were last year."
It was nearly a year ago when the deadly Cannon fire along the eastern Sierra Nevada range ignited on June 15, 2002. The fire that burned nearly 23,000 acres claimed the lives of a pilot and two crew members when the wings of their C-130A air tanker snapped off in flight.
Wehking said restrictions had not yet been imposed when the Cannon fire broke out.
The latest restrictions apply to public lands in western Nevada managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Nevada Division of Forestry.
While "awesome April" brought much needed moisture to the region, it also spurred the growth of grasses and weeds, which are quickly drying out as temperatures climb.
Officials add that heavier fuels are still suffering from drought conditions, making them more prone to fire.
Besides limiting campfires to developed fee campgrounds and picnic areas, the restrictions also prohibit smoking unless in a closed vehicle or developed site.
Open burning of any kind is banned, and off-road vehicles must stay on existing gravel or dirt roads.
Off-road travelers in wildland areas also are required to carry an ax, a shovel and at least one gallon of water.
Violations carry penalties of up to six months in jail and $10,000 in fines.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)