Angeles National Forest closure extended

Angeles National Forest fire crews reduce hazardous fuels using a curtain burner. Twitter photo

As extreme fire conditions continue, the U.S. Forest Service announced it had extended the closure of the Angeles National Forest until Wednesday.

While the closure order of all California national forests has been rescinded, closures have been extended through the Angeles, Cleveland and San Bernardino national forests, as conditions in the forests have prompted forest fire managers to increase the fire danger level from extreme to critical.

ANF officials said they hope the order can help to minimize the likelihood that visitors could become entrapped during an emergency and decrease the potential for new fire starts at a time of extremely limited firefighting resources.

Severe and persistent drought due to hot and dry weather has led to rapid fuel growth and increasingly unpredictable fire behavior across Northern California, while Southern California also remains in drought conditions, with the National Interagency Fire Center predicting “above normal significant fire potential” is set to continue across the region into October.

Additionally, “very dry conditions are expected to continue along with the start of the Santa Ana wind season” in Southern California, according to the center.

The closure prohibits going into or being on national forest lands, including roads and trails, with the decision to reopen expected to be reviewed daily, taking fire and weather conditions into account.

“Once our resources return from fighting Northern California fires, we’ll be able to re-evaluate fire danger conditions for reopening the forest,” ANF Fire Chief Robert Garcia said in a prepared statement.

In a typical fire season, California will see approximately 300,000 acres burn, but 2.27 million acres have burned already this year alone, according to CalFire.

Currently, there are 11 large uncontained fires burning on national forest lands statewide, with more than 15,000 personnel, 303 crews and 1,113 engines committed to firefighting, according to ANF officials.

The move comes as National Weather Service officials project temperatures to remain in the mid-80s for the remainder of the week in the Santa Clarita Valley, while the current marine layer has continued to keep humidity levels moderate, according to NWS forecaster Ryan Kittell.

However, the mountains surrounding the SCV are sitting in some very dry air and that is going to continue through early next week, Kittell said.

“Complicating that is the potential for some offshore flow,” Kittell added, noting that while it won’t quite be Santa Ana wind level, the shift in winds will further dry out the air and bring slightly warmer conditions to the SCV.

Fuels and vegetation are extremely dry — “about as dry as they can get,” Kittell said — causing fire danger levels to remain high.

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