USFS lifts camp fire restrictions

Union Democrat staff

The U.S. Forest Service announced it will lift fire restrictions in moderate-hazard areas of the Stanislaus National Forest today because of shorter days, cooler weather and higher humidity.

"Our fire managers determined it would be necessary to lift the restrictions in the moderate areas only - not the in the high-hazard areas, which is where the Rim Fire started," said Stanislaus National Forest spokesman Jerry Snyder.

Forest fire officials emphasize that fuel conditions in most of the forest are still very dry, and fire restrictions in high-hazard areas remain in effect. Additionally, the ban on open residential dooryard burning and other debris burning is still effective.

Upon lifting the restrictions, visitors may then use wood, charcoal or gas fires or stoves outside of developed campgrounds as long as they possess a valid California Campfire Permit and follow permit regulations.

Such permits are required for campfires and barbecues outside of developed campgrounds. Campfire permits may be obtained at Forest Service or Cal Fire offices.

Permit regulations require the following:

• Clear all flammable material away from the campfire, barbecue or gas stove for a minimum of 5 feet in all directions, down to bare mineral soil, to prevent the fire from escaping.

• Have a shovel available at the campfire site for preparing and extinguishing the flames.

• Designate a responsible person to attend the fire at all times. Never leave a fire unattended.

• Extinguish the campfire with plenty of water, using the "drown, stir and feel" method, which involves drowning the flames with water, stirring the campfire ashes and feeling the coals, rocks and any partially burned wood to make sure it's cool to touch.

• Avoid building and maintaining campfires during dry, windy weather conditions.

Fire prevention officials are also asking visitors to make sure they clear down to mineral soil 5 feet in all directions around the campfire, drown the fire with water and keep a shovel at the site. Additionally, campfires should never be located near overhanging tree branches, brush or other flammable vegetation.

Visitors who smoke outside a vehicle are required to do so within a cleared area of at least 3 feet in diameter. Never extinguish burning tobacco on or near dry vegetation, an old stump or decayed log.

The Union Democrat
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