The U.S. Forest Service announced on Friday it has raised the fire danger level for the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument from “very high” to “extreme.”
Authorities said the changes were prompted due to a combination of recent wildfires in the area, low humidity, warm temperatures and gusty winds. The danger level is a six-level system that ranges from “low” to “critical.” The “extreme” level is considered the second-highest in the system.
As part of the elevation authorities have imposed increased restrictions on forest-goers including the prohibition of any sort of camp or stove fire within the area. Smoking is also banned unless done in an enclosed vehicle or building or within an area with a three-foot clearance of flammable materials.
“By restricting the use of fire throughout the forest and increasing staffing levels, the objective is to reduce the potential of a catastrophic wildfire starting” Angeles Forest Fire Chief Robert Garcia said in a statement.
Restrictions from lower danger levels, such as the prohibition of shooting any firearms or using fireworks, remain in place.
Windy conditions are expected to persist through the weekend and the National Weather Service reported gusts in the Burbank area reached 40 mph on Thursday. In other parts of Southern California winds have reached speeds such as 67 mph in Montecito Hills and 70 mph in Sandberg.
Winds have been quite gusty across portions of southwest CA, with peak gusts during the overnight hours of 67mph recorded in Montecito Hills and 70mph in Sandberg! Here is a summary of the peak winds over the last 12 hours: https://t.co/lYdy9SVRCT #SoCal #CAwx #SBAwind— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 18, 2019
The winds have already exacerbated a brush fire in Santa Barbara County on Thursday that scorched more than 400 acres. In the San Fernando Valley residents impacted by the Saddleridge fire are being warned by authorities to be vigilant for any smoldering embers that could potentially be picked up by the winds and reignite.