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Fire bans take effect in Auburn area

By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
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Fire bans in the Auburn area and across the state are increasing as resources continue to stretch. Cal Fire announced the suspension of all burn permits in Placer County as of 8 a.m. Tuesday. The Auburn State Recreation Area soon followed by instituting a ban on campfires anywhere within the recreation area beginning the same day. “In the past, the park has banned barbecues beginning July 1 but allowed campfires until later in the summer,” said Jay Galloway, park superintendent for the Auburn State Recreation Area. “With the unusual high fire danger and the widespread fires throughout the state, we felt it was prudent to ban all campfires within the recreation area earlier than normal. Campers in designated campgrounds may use gas-fired stoves during the ban but no campfires or barbecues.” With hundreds of wildfires raging across remote, rugged parts of California for a second week, fire officials have been forced to strategically choose which to fight and which to let burn for weeks or even months. The number of fires burning in Central and Northern California – more than 1,000, according to state fire officials – means authorities can’t send firefighters to every blaze, officials said. The extreme fire danger has also resulted in fireworks bans throughout the area. Cal Fire officials said the suspension of burn permits reduces a large quantity of escape fires. “Due to unseasonably dry fuel conditions and low moisture, I advise all residents to take the time now to protect their homes from wildfires by creating a defensible space,” said Brad Harris, unit chief for Cal Fire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer unit. From now on, all fires or smoke reported by citizens or spotted by Cal Fire lookouts will be treated like a wildfire and a full fire suppression response will be dispatched to the scene. Anyone who burns in violation of the suspension will be cited. Consequences include a fine and/or the cost of recovery charges for the fire-suppression response that could easily cost tens of thousands of dollars, Cal Fire officials said. This suspension and campfire ban will remain in effect until there is sufficient rain to raise fuel moisture to a level that will retard any new fires. Cal Fire officials estimate this might not happen until late October or even November. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Journal’s Jenna Nielsen can be reached at jen-nan@goldcountrymedia.com or comment on this story at auburnjournal.com.