News Release

For immediate release: Friday, June 29, 2007     
Contacts: Debbie Santiago, BLM  (661) 391-6097  (661) 332-1754 cell
                 Margie Clack, USFS  (760) 379-5646  (760) 417-1971 cell
Doug Johnston, KCFD  (661) 391-7082  (661) 307-1943 pgr.

Fire Officials stress caution for July Fourth holiday

The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and Kern County Fire Department are reminding area residents and visitors to be careful with fire and fireworks when they celebrate Independence Day festivities.
Fire conditions are extreme this early in the summer and visitors are urged to be careful when camping, cutting fire wood and operating equipment and vehicles near grass and brush. The dry spell prompted Federal and state officials to impose early restrictions on open fires and shooting firearms on public lands.   
These fire restrictions will remain in effect until further notice:
  • Campfires are only allowed in developed campgrounds and fire “exempt” areas that are cleared of vegetation and posted, otherwise, only gas or propane stoves may be used.
  • Smoking is permitted only within a developed area, a campground, an enclosed vehicle, or a building which allows smoking.
  • Portable gas powered equipment must have a properly installed spark arrester (tractors, chainsaws, weed trimmers, mowers, motorcycles and all terrain vehicles)
The possession and use of all fireworks – including “safe and sane” and those approved by the State of California – are illegal on national forests and public lands managed by the FS and BLM. County and city governments have various regulations regarding fireworks, and holiday revelers should make themselves familiar with local laws before purchasing or using the devices.
If the public wants to enjoy fireworks, they are invited to attend a June 30 Independence Fireworks show over Isabella Lake sponsored by the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce. The show is normally scheduled at dusk and usually begins around 9 p.m. For more details call the Chamber at (760) 379-5236.
As a reminder, visitors must have a valid California Campfire Permit in their possession for any type of fire use. The free permits are available at FS, BLM or Cal FIRE offices.
According to officials, fire restrictions and the “no fireworks” ban reduces the possibility of an accidental human-caused fire that could threaten lives and property. Visitors to federal and public lands, by following these steps, can help ensure that their visit is safe, enjoyable, and helps to protect these beautiful lands from unwanted fire.   
Homeowners living in the wildland urban interface should have completed their defensible space by clearing hazardous dry vegetation away from their homes, outbuildings and property. State law requires property owners to clear a minimum of 100 feet from any structure. Be sure to use extreme caution when using equipment to avoid creating a spark that could cause of wildland fire. Clear wildland fire hazards before 10 a.m., not during the heat of the day or when the wind is blowing. Remove rocks in the area before operating equipment. Do not drive a vehicle into or set hot equipment down in dry grass or brush. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires.
Fire officials expect a hot, dry summer ahead as witnessed by the recent local fires we have already experienced, that could be a harbinger of what’s in store for the Kern Valley. The public is urged to “Please Be Fire Safe,” when visiting our forests and public lands. Communities need to be prepared!! Wildfires can be damaging and cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year. It’s a clear choice, “Be Fire Wise!!!” 

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