Parks Officials are reporting that the Fire Danger Level for the Angeles National Forest is being raised from “High” to “Very High”, effective today, Sunday, July 12.
The change comes as summer temperatures continue to dry out vegetation and the region has seen a marked increase in fire activity. Grasses growing below 4,500 feet elevation have cured and are especially prone to fire.
Since the level was raised to “High” on May 17, firefighters from the Angeles National Forest have responded to seventy-nine (79) wildfires in and around the Forest. The two largest fires of the year have occurred in the last nine days.
In addition to climatic and vegetative conditions, summer recreational activities which bring over a million visitors to the Forest are factored into the fire danger level. According to the Forest Service, Ninety-one (91) percent of all wildfires on the Angeles National Forest are human-caused.
Forest officials are urging visitors to “use common sense” when visiting the San Gabriel Mountains and maintain a higher level of awareness with the increased fire risk. Travelers through the Forest should remain on designated roads and never park cars on dry brush or grass.
Open wood and charcoal fires will only be permitted in developed campgrounds and picnic areas where fire rings and grills are provided. Gas and propane powered stoves and grills are permitted in backcountry areas with a valid California Campfire Permit. Campfire permits are available free of charge at all U.S. Forest Service offices and most visitor centers and fire stations.
Spark arrestors (required year-round) should be checked to make sure they are in good working order on all off-road vehicles, chain saws and other equipment with internal combustion engines.
The “Very High” Fire Danger Level is the fourth in a six-level, graduated fire danger rating system. A variety of factors determine the level, including the moisture in vegetation, weather conditions and firefighting equipment needs due to regional and national fire activity.