A combination of recent local wildfires, above-normal temperatures and below-average humidity has led officials to raise the fire danger level from “very high” to “extreme” in the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, it was announced Thursday morning by the U.S. Forest Service.
New restrictions include prohibitions on building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or stove fire, smoking in certain areas and welding. Restrictions set in place at lower fire danger levels — fireworks, shooting of Teflon ammunition — still apply.
“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.
A reason for the change, according to a news release issued by forest spokesman Nathan Judy, “is to enhance public awareness of the threat wildfires pose to the health and safety of the forest and those who enjoy it.”
In Northern California, the Camp fire’s death toll has grown to 56; in Southern California, the Woolsey fire has burned nearly 100,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, three bodies have been discovered and hundreds of structures have been destroyed.
The “extreme” fire danger rating is the fifth level in a six-level rating system forest officials use. The next, and last, level is “critical,” which would restrict entry to state and county highways in addition to all previous restrictions.