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US Forest Service Enacts Fire Restrictions In San Diego County

Cal Fire

Firefighters battle the Jennings fire near Interstate 8 and Old Highway 80 in Lakeside, July 11, 2017.

The U.S. Forest Service has announced the Cleveland National Forest will operate under elevated fire restrictions beginning Monday.

Elevated fire restrictions kick in every summer in the Cleveland National Forest, and they take several forms. There is no smoking on forest lands. Welding, grinding and the use of explosives are prohibited.

Any combustible engine used in the forest - on, say, a chain saw or an ATV - must have a spark arrestor on it's exhaust system. A spark from a vehicle exhaust was found to be the cause of last week's Jennings Fire in East County.

Brian Rhodes is Fire Chief for the Cleveland National Forest. He said moving to elevated restrictions is due to summer heat and low moisture levels in the plants.

U.S. Forest Service

Brian Rhodes, Fire Chief for the Cleveland National Forest, is shown in this undated photo.

"We have finally reached a threshold where our live fuel moistures are starting to drop, and getting to a condition where they will support fire," he said.

Open fires are also prohibited. But Rhodes said campfires at campgrounds are typically O.K.

"Most people do a lot of recreating in our Mt. Laguna recreation area," said Rhodes, "and those campgrounds that are located up there do allow for campfires, even during elevated fire restrictions."

He said fire restrictions in the Cleveland National Forest will revert back down to the "general" status near the beginning of the wet season in October or November. This year, elevated fire restriction were put in place about a month later than last year. Rhodes said that's because the region had quite a bit more rain this year.

The more complete list of the stricter rules now going into effect include:

— Requiring spark arrestors for all off-road vehicles, chain saws and other internal combustion equipment.

—Welding, grinding, cutting and use of explosives on forest land will require authorization by USFS officials.

— Wood or charcoal fires will be allowed only in designated fire rings in officially designated campgrounds and picnic areas.

— Use of gas, liquid and jelly-petroleum stoves and lanterns will be prohibited in the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness areas.

— Smoking will be prohibited on U.S. Forest Service lands within the forest boundary, except within enclosed vehicles or buildings, or within a developed recreation site.

Forestry officials asked visitors to Cleveland National Forest to be aware of prevailing wildfire conditions and to take appropriate prevention measures.

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