Big Bear News – San Bernardino, Calif— San Bernardino National Forest officials will extend staffing for fire personnel this weekend in anticipation of record breaking heat and visitor levels. Schedules will be augmented to 24-hour shifts in case a fire begins overnight. Extra personnel, including an engine strike team and a hot shot crew, will additionally be pre-positioned for initial attack for any fires on National Forests in Southern California.
“We are expecting large crowds escaping the heat in the Forest this holiday weekend,” said Acting Deputy Fire Chief Scott Howes. “It is extremely important visitors abide by fire restrictions to avoid starting a large fire that could prompt evacuations and endanger firefighters during the heatwave.”
Forest officials are especially concerned about illegal campfires, which are up 270% year to date. Campfires, as well as BBQs that use wood and charcoal, are only allowed in a small number of developed and staff-monitored campgrounds and picnic areas. They are not allowed in dispersed areas and other developed sites.
Gas-powered devices—stoves, lanterns and fire pits/rings—with a fuel shutoff valve, however, are allowed with a free California Campfire Permit. Users must be five feet away from vegetation, including ground cover (rake away dead leaves, pine needles and duff and return the area to how it was found before leaving).
Other fire restrictions include:
- No target shooting (allowed at three privately managed sites)
- No smoking outdoors (allowed at some developed sites)
- No driving a vehicle off road or over vegetation
All the fire restrictions, including exemptions, are listed online.
Visitors should also be prepared for very hot temperatures, even at higher elevations. They should take the extra time to protect themselves and others from heat related illness by
- Drinking plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol, as they can lead to dehydration.
- Staying in the shade whenever possible
- Scheduling the most rigorous activities for early or later in the day
- Wearing lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing
- Keeping a close eye on older adults, children, and those with chronic medical conditions