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Fires and extreme risk keep Southern California forests shut for at least another week

A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on Sept. 23 during the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest.
A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop during the Bobcat fire in the Angeles National Forest on Sept. 23.
(Mario Tama / Getty Images)

Active fires and extreme fire danger will keep seven national forests, including all in Southern California, closed for at least another week, according to a National Forest Service order Wednesday. The Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, Inyo, San Bernardino, Sequoia and Sierra national forests will remain shut at least through Oct. 8.

Thirteen of the 18 national forests in the state have large fires. The agency closed all forests in the state on Sept. 9; local forests haven’t reopened since. It’s still “a day-to-day decision” on when to reopen, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jonathan Groveman.

Farther north, Eldorado, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta-Trinity, Stanislaus and Tahoe are open to varying degrees.

It’s been an unprecedented year when it comes to wildfires. The agency reports that more than 3 million acres of land have burned statewide so far this season. In a typical fire season, that number is about 300,000 acres.

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As of Thursday morning, the Bobcat fire in the Angeles National Forest had claimed 114,901 acres and was 75% contained. Firefighters are working in the northwestern portion of the fire, between Highway 2 and Little Rock Reservoir, and patrolling other areas, such as Mount Wilson and areas near Mount Waterman, according to InciWeb. The El Dorado fire in the San Bernardino National Forest had burned 22,744 acres and was 93% contained.

Authorities urged would-be visitors to check individual forest web pages (for specific restrictions), the Cal Fire website (for updates on the blazes in progress) and AirNow or a comparable source (for air-quality readings).

Day trips around Southern California can make fall a special season, even amid a pandemic.

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Fires also shut national parks too. Yosemite National Park closed Sept. 17-24 because of smoky air from the nearby Creek fire in Sierra National Forest. It reopened Friday.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks reopened Thursday after the SQF Complex fire kept the parks temporarily closed. Air quality, however, remains poor because of smoke and particulates from the fire. Also, some wilderness areas, including the Mineral King and South Fork areas, remain closed because of wildfire concerns.


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