The Plumas National Forest is extending Stage I Fire Restrictions until Dec. 15, or until conditions allow, whichever occurs first.
Despite forecasted wet weather, the extended unseasonable warm weather over the past several weeks resulted in extremely dry fuel conditions throughout most of the area. It will take several wet storms to restore fuel moistures and lower fire danger.
With a La Nina pattern forecasted for this winter, typically meaning less precipitation and fewer storms over the area, as well as the pattern of strong, gusty fall winds, Plumas National Forest fire managers and leadership determined it was necessary to extend fire restrictions. They will be lifted as soon as conditions allow.
“With the fourth anniversary of the Camp Fire coming up next week and the late-season fires we have experienced over the past few years, it is important for us to remain vigilant to prevent human-caused wildfires,” said Plumas National Forest Assistant Fire Management Officer Mitch Wilson.
Stage I Fire Restrictions mean campfires are still only allowed in open designated recreation sites as listed in Exhibit A of the closure order. Campfires at these sites must be inside provided fire rings.
Plumas National Forest employees are continuing to winterize recreation sites, but there are still several sites open and available across the forest. The sites have reduced amenities and no fees, but remain open as long as they are accessible.
Area residents and visitors planning to recreate on the Forest are encouraged to check that the recreation sites are still open. Current site status is available at www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/plumas/recreation or by calling Plumas National Forest offices.
Due to reduced services and winterization at recreation sites, including shutting off water systems and securing restroom facilities, campers should be prepared with plenty of water and supplies. Leave No Trace principles should be followed.
Those recreating in the forest should also monitor current conditions. As the seasons change, weather in the Sierras can change rapidly with very little warning. A warm, sunny day can quickly change to cold and snow in only a few hours.
“We have been incredibly fortunate so far this fire season and appreciate everyone’s continued care until fall rains and winter snow help reduce the risk of wildfire,” Wilson said. “Plumas National Forest Fire and Aviation Management is continuing increased staffing during periods of higher wildfire risk while supporting our partners in wildfire response and safely conducting prescribed burning operations.”
To help prevent wildfires, it’s advised to do the following:
- Before going camping, check fire restrictions in place and never leave a campfire unattended. Build campfires in designated fire rings, clear of debris and keep water and a shovel nearby. Make sure campfires are out and cool to the touch before leaving the area.
- Consider alternatives to a campfire, such as a portable camp stove.
- Smoking should only be in a closed vehicle or fire-safe area and always dispose of cigarette debris in some type of an ashtray. Check local Fire Restrictions for specific rules.
- Do not drive or park in tall grass or on roads with heavy, fine fuel accumulations. Exhaust particles, hot exhaust pipes and hot catalytic converters can start grass fires in a matter of seconds. Also, maintain proper tire pressure – driving on exposed wheel rims can throw sparks.
- Secure chains properly from trailers or other equipment. Sparks from dragging chains, and exhaust from ATVs and motorcycles, can start grass fires. Spark arresters are required on all recreational and portable gasoline-powered equipment.
- Carry firefighting equipment in vehicles, including a shovel, at least one gallon of water or one 2 ½ pound or larger fire extinguisher. Report suspected wildfires by calling 911.
As wildfire season continues, anyone recreating in the forest should maintain awareness of available evacuation routes in case of wildfire and watch for smoke and emergency traffic.