Tracking land policy in the Golden State.

Forests in Southern California Brace for Wildfire Conditions

A CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire bulldozer on the Keller Fire outside Menifee in Riverside County | Photo courtesy CAL FIRE

As temperatures rose this past weekend, so did wildfire activity. State agency CAL FIRE today reported that over 2,200 firefighters from various agencies are battling major blazes across the Golden State.

The biggest is the so-called Motor Fire, located outside Yosemite National Park, that has charred over 5,000 acres. But many of the major fires are in Southern California, according to CAL Fire (see a list at the end of this post).

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Despite slightly cool temperatures this week, very low humidity levels and dry vegetation have officials taking action. Two national forests in Southern California today announced increased fire safety measures and another changed its fire restriction system in hopes of better communicating with the public.

On September 1st, the fire danger level in the Angeles National Forest will be increased to "Very High," the fourth highest rating on a six-level scale. There will be no new campfire restrictions, but across the 15 Freeway in the San Bernardino National Forest, both fire danger and restrictions will be increased.

The Cleveland National Forest, where the fire danger level is "High," changed its fire restriction system from a five-level to two-level system.

"The old system of implementing Fire Restrictions was cumbersome and confusing for the public," said Forest Supervisor, William Metz.  "As a critical part in the prevention of wildfires is for the public to fully understand the dangers, the new system is a return to a simpler process that matches the daily Fire Danger Rating System that has been in use nationally for several decades, then as needed, we will elevate restrictions as wildfire threats increase on the Forest."

A list of current and recently contained fires are below:

Current Fires

Pala Fire, San Diego County
Pala-Temecula Rd and Moro Rd, north of Pala  
* 300 acres - 60% contained
* An evacuation advisory remains in place for 35 homes in the Rancho Heights area

Oasis Fire, Los Angeles County
Los Angeles County Fire Department
South of Hwy 138 off Oasis Rd south of Pinion Hills 
* 345 acres - 90% contained

Ridge Fire, San Diego County
US Forest Service - Cleveland National Forest
South of I-8 & east of Buckman Springs Rd, northeast of Lake Morena. 
* 150 acres - 85% contained
* Sparked by lightning
* Expected containment today (August 30)

Wells Fire, San Bernardino County
Bureau of Land Management
Mojave National Preserve 
* 1,584 acres - 70% contained
* Sparked by lightning
* Expected containment today (August 30)

Recently Contained

Florida Fire, San Bernardino County
Greenspot Rd and Florida St, Mentone 
* 67 acres - 100% contained

Keller Fire, Riverside County
Baxter Rd and Menifee Rd, Menifee & Winchester area   
* 458 acres - 100% contained

Wildcat Fire, San Bernardino County
Wildcat Canyon and San Vicente Road, near the community of Ramona  
* 60 acres - 100% contained

Watts Fire, Fresno County
26,000 block of Watts Valley Road, east of Clovis  
*75 acres - 100% contained


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About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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Unfortunately, the increased fire restrictions put in place by the San Bernardino National Forest appear to be in name only - at least in Lytle Creek. During this past weekend, violations of these restrictions were repeatedly reported to the San Bernardino National Forest personnel in Lytle Creek, yet no action was taken. Why? "We do not have the personnel to conduct enforcement." Talk about poor management from the District Ranger Gabe Garcia, but he apparently was too busy with the Hill fire to manage the crowds of people and their barbeques in Lytle Creek. Good for the people in Oak Hills, but very risky and dangerous for the residents of Lytle Creek.