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Every California National Forest Closes Due to Wildfire Risk: NPR


A Kern County firefighter watches over a burning tree as the wildfire burns closer to homes during the French blaze in the Sequoia National Forest near Wofford Heights, Calif., Earlier this month.

Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images


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Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images

Every California National Forest Closes Due to Wildfire Risk: NPR

A Kern County firefighter watches over a burning tree as the wildfire burns closer to homes during the French blaze in the Sequoia National Forest near Wofford Heights, Calif., Earlier this month.

Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images

The US Forest Service is shutting down all of California’s national forests, citing the extraordinary risk of wildfires and forecasts that show the threat will only remain high or even worsen. Closures begin Tuesday evening and continue until September 17.

More than 6,800 wildfires have already burned 1.7 million acres of national forest land in California, the Forest Service said, posing a serious threat to people, wildlife and property.

The closures could help in at least two ways: by reducing the number of people at risk and by removing a potential source of ignition for new wildfires.

“We are not taking this decision lightly, but it is the best choice for public safety,” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. “It’s especially difficult as Labor Day weekend approaches, when so many people are enjoying our national forests.”

The US Forest Service says the current situation is both unique and worrying:

“While the potential for large fires and risk to life and property is not new, what is different is that we are faced with: patterns such as big, fast races at night; (c) severely limited initial attack resources, suppression resources and incident command teams to deal with new outbreaks of fire and new large fires; and (d) no weather relief expected for an extended period of until late fall. “

The closure does not apply to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the majority of which is in Nevada.

This story originally published in the Morning edition live blog.