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Climate and Environment

Heads Up: Planning To Visit The San Bernardino National Forest? Be Aware Of Stricter Fire Restrictions

Men in orange jumpsuits with rakes are in the sunlight under a tree.
An inmate crew works to set a backfire while battling a 2007 blaze in the San Bernardino National Forest.
(David McNew
Getty Images North America)
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With hot temperatures and dry vegetation raising the fire risk, the U.S Forest Service is ratcheting up fire restrictions in the San Bernardino National Forest. Starting Wednesday, campfires, target shooting, smoking, and using wood or charcoal barbecues outside of certain designated areas are off-limits.

Campers can still use a gas-powered stove, but only if they have a permit.

Hikers and campers should always check current fire restrictions at the location they plan to visit before heading out, said Forest Service spokesperson Zach Behrens. You can do so by looking online or calling ahead to a ranger station.

"Last year we had about a 300% increase in illegal campfires," Behrens said, "some of them which escaped and turned into small wildfires. We've actually already had one of those near Big Bear this year."

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The cost for violating the rules can be steep: fines as high as $10,000 or six months in jail. You could also be on the hook for all liability costs if your "prohibited actions" cause a wildfire.

Last year's unprecedented fire season, which included the massive El Dorado Fire, at one point forced a temporary shutdown of all the national forests in California. The El Dorado Fire broke out inside the San Bernardino National Forest. Charles Morton, 39 and a 14-year veteran firefighter, was killed while battling that blaze.