With More Wildfires, Burn Ban in Effect for One-Third of California

Yellow areas represent the State Responsibility Area, where a burn ban is currently in effect. The interactive map can be used here.

California hasn't had a wildfire season like this in a couple years and those on the front lines are taking notice. Today CAL FIRE officials announced an indefinite statewide burn ban for 31 million acres of land, an amount roughly equal to a third of the state.

Those acres make up what is called the State Responsibility Area, land not under federal or local jurisdiction, thus primarily the responsibility of the state when it comes to wildland fire protection. Some cities and regions like San Luis Obispo and the Santa Clarita Valley are close to being completely surrounded by the SRA.

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The ban suspends all burning permits -- residential, forest management, and other types -- within the area, but still allows for campfires in a designated campfire site on organized campgrounds and private property.

"Nearly ninety-five percent of all wildland fires within CAL FIRE's jurisdiction are human-caused and CAL FIRE is asking the public to do their part in preventing wildfires," the agency said in a press release.

There are currently about a dozen active fires statewide, but each week, the agency reports hundreds of new ones. "We have a goal of keeping fires to 10 acres or less," noted CAL FIRE Spokesperson Julie Hutchinson over the phone.

In the agency's own words, here are several tips on not becoming one of those human-caused blazes:

  • Do Defensible Space clearing before 10 a.m. and never on a hot and windy day.
  • DON'T toss cigarettes out your car window.
  • Don't pull off into dry grass or brush. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires that can't be seen easily by the driver.
  • Check with local officials for additional fire restrictions. Check with local officials for additional fire restrictions
  • In wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable gasoline powered equipment. This includes tractors, chainsaws, weedeaters, mowers, motorcycles and All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)
  • Report any suspicious activity. Call the CAL FIRE Arson Hotline: 1-800-468-4408.

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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