In a combination of extreme heat, low humidity, and record draught conditions Angeles National Forest fire danger level is being raised to “Very High” effective June 16.
Parched soil, dry, dead grasses and vegetation, and now a dangerous heat wave is raising major concerns for potential wildfires. If combined with possible heavy winds, the challenges of attacking a forest fire increase dramatically. This year forests across the state have already seen major increases in fire activity, with large wildfires now burning in several states.
Angeles National Forest Fire Chief Robert Garcia says, “We’re easily a month or more ahead of fire weather conditions for this time of year.”
Open wood and charcoal fires will still be permitted in approved “developed” campgrounds and picnic areas where a steel ring or stoves are provided. Propane or jellied gas stoves and grills are permitted in non-developed areas with a valid California Campfire Permit. Smoking is allowed in enclosed vehicles or developed recreation sites only. Drivers in the forest should stay on designated roads and never park on dry brush or grass to avoid the risk of starting a fire.
Firefighters worry they may be in for another tough wildfire season. Last year nearly 23-percent of the Angeles National Forest was impacted by major wildfires. To include the devastating Bobcat Fire, which burned through more than 180 square miles and some of the Angeles’ most beautiful wildlands. It is now the second most destructive fire in Los Angeles County to date, after the 2009 Station Fire. The Bobcat Fire damaged or destroyed more than 115 homes and dozens of other structures.
Elevating the fire danger enhances public awareness, especially ahead of the popular July 4th weekend. Traditionally, July 4th is the busiest day on the Angeles National Forest. This year the Angeles National Forest expects to again break visitor records all across the forest. Last year more than 20 wildfires started over the holiday weekend, many a result of illegal fireworks. Each was successfully ‘knocked down’ before it could grow out of control. Serving the nation’s most populated county, the Angeles National Forest has one of the most advanced and capable fire divisions of any National Forest.
Remember, all fireworks are prohibited on national forest lands. The possession or use of fireworks is prohibited at all times in the Angeles under federal law. This includes ‘sparklers’. A violation of the law can result in a $5,000 fine and/or six months in jail. Also, anyone causing a wildfire is liable for all costs of suppressing the fire.
For more information, please visit our website: www.fs.usda.gov/angeles.