With the Southland already parched by drought and soon to be swept even drier by summer Santa Ana winds, county firefighting agencies have declared today the opening day of this year's fire season.
The event also marks the first time that agencies throughout Southern California, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, have coordinated the opening of the fire season, Orange County Fire Capt. Dan Young said.
Starting today, hazardous fire areas throughout the county will be closed to public access, he said. The closure will remain in effect until enough rain falls to reduce the hazard.
However, private property owners will not be restricted in their use of land, Young added.
Last year, 15,500 acres were blackened by fire in Orange County, Young said.
To help keep wildlife areas and parks safe, the County Fire Department offers the following fire safety tips:
* Use fire rings or barbecue pits for any open fires.
* Keep matches and cigarette lighters away from children.
* Do not discharge fireworks or smoke in hazardous fire areas. Both are prohibited.
For more information as to specific areas closed to public entry, call the Fire Department information and education section at (714) 744-0496.