Santa Barbara- S County

New Fire Restrictions For Los Padres National Forest

Fuel Moisture Levels Dropped To 56 Percent Near Paradise Road Campgrounds

New Fire Restrictions For Los Padres National Forest

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - New fire restrictions are in place at the Los Padres National Forest due to the lack of rain and warm temperatures.

The fuel moisture levels dropped to 56 percent. Sixty percent is considered critical.

Celine Mooney and her neighbors off Paradise Road are worried about the potential for a fire.

"You have days like this in January. We haven't had any rain. As far as I know we don't have any on the horizon so we definitely talk about it," she said.

Moisture levels in the forest are low and above critical level.

"Conditions are what they call ripe for full consumption of everything to burn. Just like you saw in the White Fire behind me. That was early May, conditions are worse right now than they were in May," said Division Chief Mark Von Tillow of the Los Padres National Forest Service.

The White Fire burned nearly 2,000 acres of forest, including campgrounds. Because of the dryer weather now, the forest is at a level three restriction. That means people heading to the back country cannot have a campfire. They can take a stove but only if they have a special permit.

"So backpackers, horsebackers can take a gas stove with them and they can still cook their meals, they just can't have an open campfire. It's just too dry right now," said District Ranger Pancho Smith.

The restriction doesn't ban all open flames. Campers can still use designated barbecues or fire pits as long as they keep an eye on it.

By looking out into the valley, it's clear why the restriction is in place.

After eight months since the White Fire, some of the hillsides should have grown back by now.

"You would typically see a little bit of green ups, some grass. If we had some rain there would be a little carpet of green. But you can see right now we don't have any of that green up going on due to the lack of rain," said Von Tillow.

There is no timeline on when the restriction will be lifted. Smith said it will all depend on Mother Nature.

"It's very unusual. Normally during this time of year it's our wet season on the Central Coast, this is normally when we have our rainfall. And we just haven't had it," he said.

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