The Angeles National Forest will remain closed for public access through Sept. 22 as firefighters across the state battle 11 separate “large uncontained” fires burning their way through national forests, authorities said.
A regional forest closure had been scheduled to expire Wednesday night, but authorities decided to extend the closures for a week in the Angeles National Forest, along with the Cleveland National Forest and the San Bernardino National Forest, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
“Moreover, conditions on the forest have prompted Angeles forest fire managers to increase the fire danger level from Extreme to Critical,” the agency said in a written statement. “New fires continue to occur and major incidents have the potential to exhaust all resources.”
The designation bars entry to the forest for any non-essential activities, officials said.
“This closure order is intended to reduce the likelihood of a new fire starting over the next week,” the statement said. “Through this order, we hope to minimize the likelihood that visitors could become entrapped during an emergency and decrease the potential for new fire starts at a time of extremely limited firefighting resources,” the statement said.
Years of severe drought have led to “rapid growth and increasingly unpredictable fire behavior” as firefighters battle multiple massive blazes in Northern California.
Fire risk in Southern California is only expected to grow worse with the onset of the Santa Ana winds over the coming weeks, officials said.
Angeles National Forest Fire Chief Robert Garcia said the situation will be re-evaluated as resources return from the ongoing fires in the northern portion of the state.
More information on the Angeles National Forest is available online at fs.usda.gov/angeles.