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ANF Closed for Fire Safety

October 01, 2004|By Jennifer Berry

Regardless of recent lower temperatures, fire danger on Angeles National Forest remains high, leading Forest Service officials to close almost all of the recreational area.

"The fire danger really has not subsided at all. Vegetation is every bit as dry now as it was earlier in the season," said Stanton Florea, spokesperson for the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. "Looking at the big picture, we're still at the Extreme Fire Danger [level]. The general conditions are still extreme."

Multiple signs warned motorists Wednesday morning not to stop while driving on Angeles Crest Highway. Signs also indicated the forest's heightened fire danger level and forest closures.

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Officials announced the closure of about 90 percent of ANF's 650,000 acres Thursday, Florea said. The closure, which went into effect Monday and will last for an indefinite period of time, comes about a week after a combination of dry, windy weather conditions caused the National Weather Service to issue a two-day red flag fire danger warning for much of Los Angeles and ANF.

Restrictions on smoking and the use of campfires and camp stoves have been in place since July.

In addition to the closures, Florea said people with permits for recreational residences have been evacuated.

"The only thing that will bring us out of these extreme conditions is a significant amount of rainfall over a sustained period of time. Until then, we need to take necessary action to protect public safety," Jody Noiron, ANF supervisor, said in a prepared statement.

Because of their location near two evacuation routes or their favorable vegetation conditions Pyramid Lake, the Mount Baldy area and much of the San Gabriel Canyon are not closed. Angeles Crest Highway is open to through traffic as well.

"We're trying to avoid a repeat of last year," Noiron continued. Wildfires burned more than 750,000 acres last year, and three wildfires already have burned about 34,000 ANF acres in the Santa Clarita area, according to the Forest Service.

For more information on closures, call the ANF office at (626) 574-1613.

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