SACRAMENTO, Calif. — All California national forests will be closed by 5 p.m. Wednesday as wildfires ravage the state from end to end, including in San Diego County.
The decision, announced by the U.S. Forest Service Wednesday morning, comes after eight of the expansive nature areas had already been closed on Monday. With 10 more closures, all 18 of the Golden State’s beloved national forests are now closed.
“We had closed eight National Forests on Monday evening, Sept. 7, 2020. Explosive growth of fires throughout California during the day and late evening of Sept. 8 led to this updated decision,” the Forest Service’s statement explained.
“The number of large fires and extreme fire behavior we are seeing across the state is historic,” said Regional Forester Randy Moore. “These temporary closures are necessary to protect the public and our firefighters, and we will keep them in place until conditions improve and we are confident that National Forest visitors can recreate safely. I ask all Californians and visitors to take these closures and evacuations seriously for their own safety and to allow our firefighters to focus on the mission of safely suppressing these fires.”
The 18 forests cover over 20 million acres across California. This is the first time in decades that entire forests in the state have been closed due to wildfires, according to a forest service spokesman.
All developed campground and day-use sites on national forest lands will also be shut down across California, and ignition sources — such as campfires and gas stoves — are prohibited, according to the Forest Service’s website.
Officials will re-evaluate when to reopen the forest lands on a daily basis, but did not indicate a time frame for when that could possibly happen.