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Record numbers setting campfires

Staff Reports
The big yellow signs show campers what's allowed on U.S. Forest Service lands.
Kurt Hildebrand

Fire and law enforcement officers had another busy weekend contacting a record numbers of visitors about campfires they had made that are not allowed under the current fire restrictions in the Eldorado National Forest.

“We are really excited to have so many new people visiting the forest for the first time,” said Forest Supervisor Jeff Marsolais. “Now more than ever, being outdoors is playing an important role in our lives. Our national forests are open and we want to welcome everyone to come out and enjoy them. But right now, traditional campfires are too much of a risk, given the weather conditions in California.”

What are the fire restrictions?

■ Making a campfire, stove fire or barbeque with wood or charcoal is only allowed at developed recreation sites that are listed in the forest order. Typically, these designated sites are established campgrounds with numbered campsites, a metal fire ring, and a campground host.

■ If you possess a California Campfire Permit (available online) you may use a gas-powered portable campfire pit, stove or lantern with an on/off switch, in an area cleared at least 3 feet by 3 feet.

■ Making a campfire outside of a designated developed area, such as in a rock ring at a primitive dispersed campsite, is prohibited. The fine for making an illegal campfire is up to $5,000 for an individual, or $10,000 for an organization.

Electronic message boards on forest roads, and on Highways 50, 88 and 89; bright yellow and red fire restrictions signs; and information boards throughout the forest alert visitors that campfires are not allowed. Either there is confusion because there are so many first time visitors or people are ignoring the signs