SAN BERNARDINO, CALIF—US Forest Service firefighters, with the assistance of the Big Bear Fire Department, were dispatched at approximately 10:15 a.m. today to a fire south of the City of Big Bear Lake.
A small fire, about 30 ft. by 30 ft. in size, was found off Mill Creek Road (Forest Service Road No. 2N10), between Camp Osito (2N17) and Kidd Creek (2N86) roads. Local visitors were on scene trying to put out the fire.
The cause of the fire was determined to be an illegal campfire that escaped into surrounding vegetation. It was placed atop dry pine needles, causing it to spread under a campfire ring made from rocks. The illegal campfire was within 100 feet of a sign that said, “no campfires.” Numerous signs with the same prohibition are posted around the area. Citronella tea candles and small pop-it fireworks, both which are prohibited, were also found at the scene.
“Dispersed campfires are not allowed and this is exactly why,” said Michael Koontz, the acting division chief for the Mountaintop Ranger District. “We really need the public’s help in abiding by our fire restrictions.”
18 additional illegal campfires were addressed by fire patrols this past holiday weekend across the National Forest. Those cited for building, maintaining, attending, or using an illegal campfire must appear in federal court for a hearing. Fines can be up to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a group.
Current fire restrictions only allow campfires in rings provided by Forest Service at developed campgrounds with full-time camp hosts. If conditions continue to worsen over the fire season, even those campfires may be prohibited later this year. As such, visitors should always check fire restrictions before heading out each time.