The U.S. Forest Service has placed temporary fire restrictions in high hazard areas of the Stanislaus National Forest.
Campfires, briquette barbecues and smoking cigarettes outside developed campgrounds in designated high hazard areas are prohibited until the end of the 2012 fire season.
Special permits are required for any sort of welding or blasting in the areas, the Forest Service said.
Violations of the restrictions are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for an organization. Offenders can also face up to six months in jail.
Copies of maps displaying the fire hazard zones are available for viewing at Forest Service offices in Sonora, Mi-Wuk Village, Pinecrest, Groveland and Hathaway Pines or online at www.fs.usda.gov/stanislaus.
Fire Management Officer Ed Hiatt said the yearly restrictions are being put in place about two or three weeks earlier than normal due to the low winter precipitation and snowpack.