As summer temperatures continue to dry out vegetation and the region has seen a marked increase in fire activity, the fire danger level on the Angeles National Forest is being raised from "high" to "very high" effective Sunday, July 12.
Grasses growing below 4,500 feet elevation have cured and are especially prone to fire.
Between now and May 17, when the danger level was raised to "high," firefighters have responded to 79 wildfires in and around the forest. The two largest fires of the year have occurred within the last two weeks.
In addition to climatic and vegetative conditions, summer recreational activities, which bring more than a million visitors to the forest are factored into the fire danger level. Ninety-one percent of all wildfires on the Angeles are human-caused.
Forest visitors are urged 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 on dry brush or grass.
As a reminder: all fireworks are prohibited on national forest lands.
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 (which are 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" danger lever is the fourth in a six-level, graduated fire danger rating system, determined by moisture levels in vegetation, weather conditions and firefighting equipment needs due to regional and national fire activity.