The U.S. Forest Service will temporarily close its national forests across Southern California due to the region’s dangerous conditions and limited firefighting resources, the agency announced Monday, Sept. 7.
The open-ended closures will begin at 5 p.m. Monday and will be re-evaluated daily as conditions change. A combination of extreme heat, significant wind, dry conditions and overstretched firefighting resources prompted the decision.
“The wildfire situation throughout California is dangerous and must be taken seriously,” Randy Moore, regional forester for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, said in a statement. “Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are worsening, and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire.
“We are bringing every resource to bear nationally and internationally to fight these fires,” he added, “but until conditions improve, and we are confident that National Forest visitors can recreate safely, the priority is always to protect the public and our firefighters.”
The following national forests are closed completely: Angeles, San Bernardino, Cleveland, Los Padres, Inyo, Sequoia, Sierra, and Stanislaus.
Elsewhere, the Forest Service will close all of its developed campground and day-use sites in California. The use of campfires, gas stoves and any other ignition source are now prohibited on all National Forest System lands throughout the state.
In Los Angeles County, the Bobcat Fire ignited Sept. 6 in the Angeles National Forest and has burned 4,800 acres of Monday morning. Limited access and resources have hindered the roughly 150 firefighters involved.
In San Bernardino County, the El Dorado Fire on the northern edges of Yucaipa, near the San Bernardino National Forest, hit 8,600 acres Monday afternoon. More than 20,000 residents have been evacuated while 619 firefighters battle the blaze. The fire, started Saturday by a family’s gender reveal stunt, now stretches across the county border into Riverside County as well.
The Forest Service pointed to the Creek Fire on the Sierra National Forest, near Fresno, as an example of “extreme fire behavior.” The Creek Fire erupted Friday, Sept. 4, and rapidly grew over the weekend, making a 15-mile run in a single day and reaching 76,790 acres as of Monday afternoon. The California National Guard evacuated roughly 200 people from Wagner Mammoth Pool Campground. Nearly 1,000 firefighters are involved.
Source: Orange County Register