Red Flag Warnings

Red Flag Warning is a term used by fire weather forecasters to alert fire personnel and the public of potential extreme and critical fire weather due to high winds and low relative humidity. Only the National Weather Service can issue Red Flag Warnings.

Warnings are issued one 24 hour period at a time, have a beginning and end time, and are issued only when ALL the following three criteria are met:

1.   Wind speeds are expected to exceed 20mph.

2.   Relative humidity is 15% or lower.

3.   Fire danger rating of High, Very High, or Extreme.

To find out if it’s a Red Flag Day: Call Show Low Dispatch Center (928) 532-2700 or visit

Prohibited activities on Red Flag Warning Days include Forest Order 01-18-004:

1. Building, maintaining, or attending a fire or campfire. *Propane heating and cooking devices are permissible.

2. Smoking outside a vehicle or a building.

3. Vehicle use off roads or trails.

4. Driving a vehicle without an approved spark arresting device.

5. Operating an internal combustion engine (unless the equipment has an approved spark arresting device AND is in an area completely devoid of vegetation) i.e. chainsaws, generators, hot saws, skidders, and other recreational or industrial equipment.

6. Welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with an open flame.

If you’re not sure if it’s a Red Flag Warning Day, error on the side of caution by avoiding all prohibited activities.

Sometimes there are no fire restrictions on the national forests, but there is a Red Flag Warning in effect. In this scenario, folks would not be able to have a campfire or charcoal fire. The only scenario visitors can have fires without any prohibitions is when there is no Red Flag Warning and no fire restrictions.  

It’s your responsibility to know before you go!