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LOS PADRES FOREST | West Ventura County Focus

Campfires in Back Country OKd Again

November 06, 1996|NICK GREEN

Rains and cooler weather mean hunters and hikers may now build fires with a permit in the back country of the Los Padres National Forest.

Campfire restrictions were lifted Sunday throughout the 2-million-acre forest, including the 557,138 acres in Ventura County.

Officials eliminated the fire ban outside developed campgrounds because recent weather conditions have raised vegetation moisture above critical levels, forest spokeswoman Mary Blair said. In addition, private landowners inside the forest boundary will be allowed to burn excess vegetation with a permit.

Both burning and campfire permits are available at any forest service office.

However, Blair cautioned the fire season is not yet considered over.

Ventura County officials are also resisting declaring the end of fire season, at least for the next week or so, said Fire Department spokeswoman Sandi Wells.

"We still have some predicted east winds and we want to watch the weather carefully," she said.

An end to the fire season translates into a reduced response if fires do occur and the loss of some firefighting resources, including hand crews.

Meanwhile, Ventura police are urging anyone with information about the Oct. 25 arson that burned about 475 acres and threatened homes near City Hall to give them a call.

"We're working on several leads, but we don't have anything solid yet," said Det. Ralph Martinez. "We're looking for people who were in the area who may have seen or even heard something suspicious."

Fire officials have been unable to determine how the fire started east of Grant Park near the pistol range, but have eliminated any accidental cause, Martinez said.

Martinez may be reached at 339-4472.

City officials will meet with reforestation experts Nov. 15 to plan reseeding efforts, said Mark Watkins, public works manager.

With the recent rains aiding in the recovery of burned grasses, those efforts are not expected to be extensive, he said.

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