Fire Danger, Fireworks Concern in Backcountry

Campgrounds filling up under extreme fire danger restrictions.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - For those who know the Central Coast backcountry, the fire danger cannot get any more extreme due the drought.

"This is about as dry as I've ever seen it", says William Hancock is a volunteer ranger at the Paradise Campground along the upper Santa Ynez River, "some people don't understand, the drought and the fire danger here is a really big deal."

"We've seen the signs posted and with the winds, and certainly with the recent fires", says campers Nick and Brianna Arentz who got the message about the restrictions, campfires and barbeques restricted to designated areas only and no smoking except inside a vehicle or camper."

"You have to follow the campfire rule, douse it at night before you go to bed", Nick Arentz says, "you can see some winds can rip through here and that would carry an ember pretty right out of a campfire."

Fireworks of all kinds are illegal all year round in the Los Padres National Forest, but they still make their way into the backcountry at this time of year.

"We saw the sign coming in", says camper Mark See, "there's high danger of fire, it's the same everywhere around the west right now because of the drought."

"Everyone thinks the Fourth of July fireworks, firecrackers, even the sparklers out here, once one of those ashes gets in the grass around here, its going to take off", William Hancock adds.

As crowds start to pour in to the backcountry campgrounds, the message is clear, be aware and alert to have fun in the great outdoors.

"All it takes is one little spark, one little ember from a cigarette ash", Hancock warns, "and this place is up in smoke."

Anyone found violating the extreme fire danger restrictions in the Los Padres National Forest face stiff fines as high as $2,000 as well as arrest.

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