IDYLLWILD (CNS) - Starting today, visitors to the San Bernardino National Forest will be barred from lighting camp fires and using stoves outside of designated areas due to the increased risk of wildfires.
According to forest rangers, thick vegetation from heavy winter rains, combined with extremely hot and dry conditions now prevalent in Southern California, have elevated wildfire danger in locations throughout the 676,666- acre federal preserve.
“The wet winter has provided a very mild fire season on the forest so far, but vegetation is beginning to dry out,” San Bernardino National Forest Fire Chief Jaime Gamboa said.
Effective today and continuing to Dec. 31, the following restrictions will apply under a U.S. Forest Service order:
-- campfires, stove fires and any other type of open burning are only allowed in designated locations listed by the USFS;
-- individuals who hold a California Campfire Permit may use portable stoves and lanterns outdoors, as long as they have fuel shut-off valves;
-- smoking is limited to the inside of vehicles or buildings, or in a specifically designated site; and
-- welding is prohibited.
Violations can result in fines as high as $10,000 or six months in jail, as well as all liability costs should a vegetation fire start due to prohibited activity, according to the Forest Service.
Southern California wildfire season generally spans May to November, but can last longer, depending on the arrival of winter rains.
More information is available from the USFS's Idyllwild Ranger Station at 909-382-2922, or via the San Jacinto Mountains Monument Visitors Center, 760-862-9984.