Citing dangerously dry conditions and a persistent lack of rain, Los Padres National Forest officials announced 7/23 that Level IV fire restrictions have gone into effect. “I can’t remember the last time we were at Level IV,” said Forest Service spokesperson Andrew Madsen on Tuesday, noting Level V is only reached when terrain is similarly parched and there’s a wildfire raging nearby. Madsen said his office fielded a number of calls after the White Fire — seen above and started on May 27 when embers from a cooking fire at the White Rock Day Use Area blew into nearby brush — from people curious why campfires hadn’t been banned sooner. The wildland blaze scorched around 2,000 acres and cost $3 million to fight. Madsen noted that while the backcountry is mostly void of visitors save for hard-core backpackers, day-use areas remain popular and well-attended.
He explained Level IV rules mean wood and charcoal fires are now prohibited in all areas of Los Padres, including designated Campfire Use Sites; however, people with a valid California Campfire Permit are allowed to use portable stoves and lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel within campfire sites. Recreational target shooting isn’t allowed without a special use permit, but hunting is exempt. Smoking is prohibited except in a car, building, or Campfire Use Site. Fireworks are completely forbidden.