Sylmar, Los Angeles, California FireLate last week, officials in the Angeles National Forest raised the Fire Danger from Moderate to High. This in and of itself isn’t much news – the Forest Service usually ups the warning level every year – but the timing is unusual. Forest Service officials say the moisture and fuel levels in the forests of Southern California are now reaching their summer levels months before summer begins.

All this is because L.A. is on track to have its fourth driest year since we started keeping records. L.A. usually gets about 14 inches of rain a year and now, near the end of our rainy season, we’ve only had 5.14. Already, County fire officials say they’ve seen small blazes start “almost every day.”

Fire Officials are warning visitors to the backcountry to remain vigilant about fire safety – 90% of the fires in the San Gabriels are started by humans. If you’ve got a campfire, be sure it’s well doused with water and completely out before you leave – and when you’re parking at the trailhead, be sure your car isn’t parked above tall grass (that’s what sparked last year’s 4,192-acre Williams Fire).

Here’s hoping our fire season is more mild than they expect it to be …

Image by James L.A.

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Casey Schreiner

Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Modern Hiker
Since founding Modern Hiker in 2006, Casey's writing has appeared in Backpacker, Adventure Journal, the REI Blog, and Sierra Trading Post's Social Hub.

He has also been featured on Good Morning America, NPR, and the Associated Press, as well as in documentaries for Columbia Sportswear and the OTIS College of Art and Design.

Casey was one of eight people chosen by the National Parks Foundation to participate in the 2015 Find Your Park Expedition. His first book "Day Hiking Los Angeles," will be published by Mountaineers Books in 2016.

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This post was written by Casey Schreiner on April 29, 2013


  • GeekHiker says:

    Are they still having a “start” to fire season down there? I remember, when I left, there was talk about simply making it a year-round thing, given the climate and rainfall changes of the past few decades…

  • David says:

    It’s a good idea to carry a fire extinguisher in the car at all times. Not saying go fight a brush fire with one. While driving in LA, it’s a regular occurrence to see vehicles ablaze. A fire extinguisher can give you, your car, and the forest a fighting chance in case of flame.

    Just got back from spending 2 days in San Bernardino NF this weekend and the Smokey signs read low to moderate. However, the forest is a tinder box and very dry. Time to update those signs.

    I’ve noticed a few of the local streams that should be gorging with water are reduced to a summertime trickle, or are completely dry. Time for a rain dance? Curious if someone might know how/if this affects fish that inhabit these streams.

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