US Forest Service temporarily closing Calif. forests amid fires

Forest Service closes all national forests in California amid 'historic' fire conditions
Posted at 11:20 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 10:32:27-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- As large wildfires rage in different parts of California, the U.S. Forest Service took no chances when it comes to another major fire sparking in the Golden State.

The Forest Service announced on Monday that starting on Aug. 31, at 11:59 p.m., all California National Forests would be temporarily closed until Sept. 17, at 11:59 p.m.

This is fire season has already turned out to be intense, with one with the Caldor Fire tearing through parts of Northern California in the Sierra Nevada.

It’s something avid San Diego hiker Michael Taylor, who’s been regularly hiking for the last 11 years, got a sneak preview to last week.

“We were right there. The air quality was around 285 or something when we were there. So, we were able to do any of the hikes. The scenery was all smoked out,” Taylor said.

As of Monday night, the Caldor Fire has torched more than 186,000 acres.

It serves as a reminder that some 500 miles away that the fire dangers are still real here in San Diego.

“The fuels out there are very receptive to fire right now. Any new fire start can have the potential to go very quick and very fast and move into communities,” said Nathan Judy with the U.S. Forest Service.

To help prevent that spread into the communities, the Forest Service felt it was necessary to make this move to protect the public and firefighters during this intense fire season.

“Especially with the holiday weekend coming up, we want to make sure that no new fire can start. Because any new fire across the landscape can grow into a large catastrophic wildfire very quickly,” Judy said.

Taylor respects and understands the Forest Service’s call, seeing as he saw just how quickly these fires could get out of hand from afar.

“It’s a shame to not be able to get out. But it’s also for the best to protect the woods because we’ve all seen the effects of the fires and how bad it can be,” Taylor said.

Taylor caught a glimpse of how bad these wildfires can get in some of California’s glorious green beauty.

Judy said that San Diego also got an idea of how bad things could of have gotten with the recent Chaparral Fire.

“It grew very quickly, very rapidly, and it was in a remote area. But it can grow into populated areas. That’s going to have a threat to life and property, and we want folks to area aware of that,” Judy said.

Fire season is burning bright and not in the best of ways. So, measures have been taken to make sure that more of the Golden State is turned to ash.

“We’re going to open the forests as quickly as we can. But you have to have patience with us. We don’t take this decision lightly,” Judy said.

“I mean, we can burn just as easily. We’ve just been lucky that a fire hasn’t started here,” Taylor said.

Judy told ABC 10News that there are 14 large wildfires burning with little containment in California.

Adding that forecast is showing that fire conditions are trending to stay about the same or worse as we move into late summer and fall.