Elevated fire restrictions issued for Cleveland National Forest - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Elevated fire restrictions issued for Cleveland National Forest

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Cleveland National Forest announced that elevated fire restrictions were imposed Sunday as the dry "forest fire season" looms closer.

The heightened restrictions are because of "dryer fuel conditions, higher temperatures and the likelihood of small fires becoming large fires," Cleveland National Forest Public Affairs Officer Brian Harris said.

Under elevated fire restrictions, the Forest Service restricts activities that have started fires in the past. Fireworks are never allowed in the forest, but now visitors must know a slew of additional rules. They must bring spark arrestors for all off-highway vehicles and chainsaws, and cease using wood or coal fires except for in the designated campground areas that have already been developed.

Gas, liquid and petroleum stove operations are allowed in all camping and picnic areas except for areas of Descanso and Palomar Ranger District and the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness Area on the Trabuco Ranger District. Shooting a firearm is only allowed during hunting season or for target practice in the pre-designated areas of the forest.

Forest visitors who smoke are only allowed to do so within an enclosed vehicle that is located on developed recreation sites, Harris said.

"When you see a Smokey Bear sign that reads, `Fire danger today is very high,' you need to know that the likelihood of a wildfire starting, and then quickly developing into a large fire is a strong possibility," Cleveland National Forest Fire Chief Carlton Joseph said. "The public needs to be extremely careful when recreating within the forest during period of high, very high and extreme fire danger."

Visitors seeking information about localized fire restrictions in the Alpine, Descanso and Laguna Mountain areas can contact the Descanso Ranger District at (619) 445-6235. Information for the Palomar Mountain, Henshaw, Ramona, Temecula Valley and Oak Grove areas is at the Palomar Ranger District at (760) 788-0250. And the data for the Ortega Highway area, San Mateo, Orange County and Corona areas is at the Trabuco Ranger District at (951) 736-1811.

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