Fires spark closures, prohibitions

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Fires spark closures, prohibitionsREBECCA NEIPP

News Review Staff Writer

A record-breaking wildfire season has prompted the closure of all 18 National Forests in the state of California.

U.S. Forest Service rangers announced the closure of eight forests on Monday, and closed the remaining 10 on Wednesday, citing extreme heat, significant winds, dry conditions and limited firefighting resources as among the factors.

“The number of large fires and extreme fire behavior we are seeing across the state is historic,” said Regional Forester Randy Moore.

According to Cal Fire statistics, more than 2.2 million acres of land have burned in more than 7,500 separate incidents. Eight fatalities and scores of injuries have been confirmed as the results of these fires.

Thousands of structures have been damaged, and tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated as a precaution.

At least one incident, the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County, was reportedly caused by careless use of a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device.” The fire had burned across some 12,000 acres by press time.

The Forest Service subsequently published a warning prohibiting the use of any ignition source, and closing all campground and day-use sites on USFS property.

Closer to home, the Sequoia Complex Fire — which resulted from the merging of the Castle and Shotgun fires — had burned some 70,000 acres, with only 12 percent containment achieved.

The fire originally began Aug. 19, burning an area approximately 25 miles north of of Kernville.

Thousands of lightning strikes a few days into the blaze resulted in 560 new fires which eventually culminated into the current threat, which has been burning in both the Sequoia and Inyo national forests.

“All active fire edges will continue to see growth with forecasted weather,” according to the report at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7048/.

In our community, the biggest impact has been the air quality hazard from the resulting plumes of smoke — which have been traced to several of the fires burning across the state.

In the meantime, closures remain in effect until further notice.

“We are bringing every resource to bear nationally and internationally to fight these fires, 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,” said Moore.

For more information from Cal Fire, visit fire.ca.gov/incidents/. For information on the air quality for your area, visit airgov.now.

“The Forest Service thanks our partners and the public for their cooperation and understanding of this monumental fire threat. It is critical that all Californians and national forest visitors follow these important closures and restrictions for their own safety and the safety of our firefighters.”

Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-09-11