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Cal Fire suspends burn permits in unincorporated areas of San Diego County

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Posted at 10:36 AM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 13:36:42-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Heightened wildfire danger posed by ample dry vegetation and increasingly warm, arid weather in the San Diego area prompted Cal Fire to suspend all burn permits for local outdoor residential fires in unincorporated areas beginning Friday.

This temporary ban prohibits the burning of leaves, branches and other landscape debris.

"We are asking that residents not be lulled into a false sense of security on the heels of an exceptionally wet winter," Cal Fire Director Chief Ken Pimlott said. "The (resulting) abundant dead grass will only serve as a fuse to the heavier vegetation still suffering the lasting effects of five years of extreme drought."

It also is important that people undertake foliage removal "in a safe and responsible manner," county Fire Chief Tony Mecham said.

"This includes using the proper tools and limiting clearance activities to the early morning hours when the humidity is up and the temperatures are down," he noted.

Additionally, Cal Fire officials -- who are responsible for firefighting and other emergency services in unincorporated areas -- urge residents to maintain a minimum of 100 feet of "defensible space" around homes and other structures, and landscape with fire-resistant and drought-tolerant plants.

The burn-permit suspension will not apply to campfires within organized campgrounds or on private property. A campfire permit can be obtained at fire stations or online at PreventWildfireCA.org.

Likewise, controlled burns related to agriculture, land management, fire training and industrial activities may continue to take place if a Cal Fire official inspects proposed burn sites and issues special permits.

Since Jan. 1, firefighters across the state have responded to more than 900 wildfires, according to the state agency.