Dry brush and a lingering drought have prompted forest officials to issue restrictions earlier than normal.
Dry conditions and warming temperatures have forced San Bernardino National Forest officials to institute campfire and hunting restrictions a month earlier than usual. The rules go into effect Wednesday.
Visitors will not be allowed to build or maintain any type of fire, including campfires or charcoal fires, except in a National Forest-provided campfire ring or barbecue grills in approved areas. The restrictions are in effect throughout the 820,000-acre national forest with few exceptions, the forest announced. The Angeles National Forest and Los Padres National Forest started similar restrictions earlier this month.
In San Bernardino, California campfire permit holders will not be exempt from the restrictions, but they can use a portable campfire ring/pit, stove or lantern with gas, kerosene and other approved fuels at least five feet away from flammable materials.
Smoking is not allowed except in approved areas, including inside vehicles. Operating motorized vehicles with combustion engines off paved, gravel or dirt roads and trails maintained by the National Forest also is banned, according to the order signed by San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor Danelle Harrison. Other restrictions are in effect through Jan. 1, 2023.
On Sunday, a wildfire started near Cleghorn Mountain in the forest and burned 10 acres before firefighters contained the blaze. The surrounding areas of San Bernardino County are dry, and with no real rain in the forecast, the conditions for more wildfires remain high.
Farther north in Solano County, a brush fire ignited Wednesday afternoon by someone target shooting in dry brush, according to emergency dispatchers. The fire was burning about seven miles north of the city of Vacaville and about 15 miles north of where a separate 135-acre brush fire was contained Tuesday.
In previous years, fire season started around September or October, but that has changed in recent years thanks to a lingering drought gripping the West.
“The fires seem to be coming earlier and earlier this year,” San Bernardino County Fire Protection District spokesperson Tracey Martinez said. “There’s still a lot of green in the mountainsides, but once the winds start blowing, that quickly dries out.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.