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COUNTYWIDE FOCUS

Limits Set on Fires at Los Padres Forest

August 30, 1994|GREG RIPPEE

Concerned about tinder-dry conditions, the U.S. Forest Service has imposed fire-season restrictions that will affect visitors to some 550,000 acres of Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County.

Until the restrictions are lifted--typically when the rains return or the weather cools appreciably--campfires must be confined to developed recreation sites or designated areas, said Mary Blair, a forest fire prevention officer with the Forest Service.

Visitors can smoke only in an enclosed vehicle, building, campground or designated area, Blair said. She said vehicles must remain on roads or designated trails.

Not included in the restrictions, she added, are lanterns or portable stoves that use gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel.

Gerry Little, a Forest Service planning officer, said the restrictions typically are instituted in September, historically the worst fire month, when the weather can be hot and windy and plants dangerously dry.

"We expect it to be continually hot through September," Little said, citing weather forecasts that his agency has reviewed.

Indicative of the current fire threat, he added, is the blaze that burned 48,300 acres of forest and brushland from Aug. 14 to 20 in the San Luis Obispo area.

Several homes were destroyed as well.

"The way that fire burned was extremely explosive," Little said. "It is a real good indication of where we're at throughout the forest in terms of field moisture."

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