California Shuts Down All National Forests Due to Wildfire Risk
As of Tuesday night, every national forest in California will be closed to the public. The drastic move is in response to extreme fire danger the state is experiencing and a need to keep resources available for ongoing wildfires.
As of now, it looks like the forests will be shut down until Sept. 17. Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is largely located in Nevada, will remain open.
This year’s fire season has been particularly rough in forest areas ravaged by dire drought conditions, providing flames fuel to rip through large swaths of otherwise beautiful California landscape.
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The U.S. Forest Service hopes closures will reduce both potential harm to people and harm people can create by inadvertently igniting new wildfires.
The Forest Service said:
“Although the potential for large fires and risk to life and property is not new, what is different is that we are facing: (a) record level fuel and fire conditions; (b) fire behavior that is beyond the norm of our experience and models such as large, quick runs in the night; (c) significantly limited initial attack resources, suppression resources, and Incident Command Teams to combat new fire starts and new large fires; and (d) no predicted weather relief for an extended period of time into the late fall.”
According to Cal Fire Tuesday morning, more than 1.8 million acres have burned as a result of 6,959 separate fire incidents so far this year. And the season is far from over; it begins earlier and ends later each year, which Cal Fire officials attribute to climate change as a “key driver.” They estimate the fire season has increased by 75 days across the Sierras.
National forests are wrapped into the three largest fires currently burning: Lassen National Forest in the Dixie Fire at 807,396 acres, El Dorado National Forest in the Caldor Fire at 191,607 acres and Shasta Trinity National Forest in the Monument Fire at 170,945 acres.
There are currently 18 “active fires of interest,” according to Cal Fire.
The Dixie Fire, which is located along the California-Oregon border is still not yet half contained and at more than 800,000 acres is already the largest single fire since records were kept in 1932. The burn size is behind the August Complex fires by just less than 225,000 acres.
The Caldor Fire, which has caused five injuries and destroyed 669 structures, prompted massive evacuations Monday. It was just 16 percent contained Tuesday morning, making red flag conditions even more disheartening as the fire pushes closer toward South Lake Tahoe.