San Bernardino National Forest restrictions in effect as fires burn

A U.S. Forest Service fire official said the restrictions were a "precaution" to prevent potentially destructive wildfires


By Martin Estacio
Daily Press

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A two-month restriction on campfires and related activities in a nearby national forest were enacted Friday.

San Bernardino National Forest officials announced the restrictions amid an over 140-acre wildfire burning on its border.

The restrictions, set to expire Dec. 31, prohibit all campfires, smoking and the use of portable stoves on SBNF land.

A U.S. Forest Service fire official said the restrictions were a "precaution" to prevent potentially destructive wildfires that historically have started around the second half of this month.

"If you look back at the last days of October over the years, it was conditions like these when the most explosive fires on the National Forest have occurred," Acting Deputy Fire Chief Scott Howes said in a statement.

A fire ignited about 2 a.m. Thursday in the area of Highway 18 and Old Waterman Canyon Road, straddling the line between San Bernardino city and SBNF land.

The Old Water Fire forced the evacuation of homes as firefighters battled the early morning blaze.

The fire rekindled the following afternoon, sending up a thick column of grey smoke. Six air tankers and six helicopters assisted ground crews, SBNF reported.

As of Friday morning, the fire had burned 145 acres. Containment was 55%, and evacuation orders had been lifted, according to the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

The Old Water Fire started in the same vicinity as the Old Fire, which charred over 91,000 acres in October 2003. That conflagration destroyed 975 buildings and caused six deaths.

The Old Water Fire has not destroyed any buildings or resulted in any deaths, according to officials.

A red-flag warning was issued for the San Bernardino Mountains and other Southern California areas. The warning was lifted Friday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

Also on Friday, the NWS predicted 25 to 35 mph winds, with gusts up to 50 to 70 mph or higher and single-digit humidities.

The forest restrictions came as Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in both Sonoma and Los Angeles counties due to raging wildfires.

The Tick Fire, which started Thursday, has burned nearly 4,300 acres and destroyed six homes, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Burning in Santa Clarita, the fire was 5% contained as of Friday evening.

In Northern California, the Kincade Fire has burned 23,700 acres and destroyed 49 structures. Containment was also at 5% as of Friday evening, according to Cal Fire.

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©2019 Daily Press, Victorville, Calif.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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