Union Democrat staff

The U.S. Forest Service has lifted some fire restrictions in the Stanislaus National Forest, but Cal Fire is reminding foothills residents that fire danger remains high in the lower elevations.

The Forest Service announced Thursday that fire restrictions were lifted in high-hazard areas of the Stanislaus National Forest on Oct. 30 because of shorter days, cooler weather and higher humidity.

Forest visitors may now use wood, charcoal or gas fires and stoves outside of developed campgrounds if they possess a valid California campfire permit.

Campfire permits still require people to clear all flammable material away from the campfire, barbecue or stove for a minimum of five feet in all directions down to bare soil to prevent the fire from escaping.

Other permit requirements include having a shovel available at the campfire site for preparing and extinguishing campfires, designating a responsible person to attend the fire at all times and extinguishing the campfire with plenty of water and using the "drown, stir and feel" method.

The permit also tells visitors to avoid having a campfire during dry, windy weather conditions.

Meanwhile, Cal Fire says the suspension on residential outdoor burning remains in effect.

"Fire danger remains high across the Central Sierra and the chance of large and damaging fires still exists," an agency announcement said Thursday. "Even though the area has experienced cooler temperatures and a little moisture, it only takes one day of dry winds to bring the fire danger back to extreme."

In the early summer, the Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit suspended all burning permits in the area. This does not include campfires in organized campsites open to the public.

Cal Fire said the state is fully prepared with an "array of equipment," including fire engines, air tankers, helicopters and bulldozes, in the event of another large wildfire.

"As October draws to a close, the fire danger in portions of the state may decrease," the news release said. "When this occurs, Cal Fire may announce the transition to winter preparedness and lift the burn suspension."

The Central Sierra experienced the third-largest wildfire in California history when the Rim Fire broke out in the Tuolumne River Canyon on Aug. 17.

The massive blaze was fully contained Oct. 25 after burning a total of 402 square miles in the Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park and on some private lands.

Investigators determined a hunter started the Rim Fire in the Jawbone Creek area when he lost control of an illegal campfire. Forest Service officials have not released the hunter's name and no arrest has been made.