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Los Padres Forest Reopens Thursday

The Forest Service on Thursday, Nov. 8, will lift the emergency closure of LosPadres National Forest.

The Forest Service on Thursday, Nov. 8, will lift the emergency closure of Los Padres National Forest, even as firefighters continue to snuff out the second of two recent dangerous wildfires.

However, the 240,000-acre swath that burned in the Zaca Fire this summer will remain closed, as will some portions of the 58,000-acre stretch that ignited Oct. 20 in the Ranch Fire, which is 97 percent contained.

The rest of the forest will reopen at one minute after midnight Wednesday, Nov. 7. The lifting of the closure, which has been in effect since Oct. 23 due to extreme fire danger, means people can again drive on the roads, camp at the sites, hike in the trails and shoot targets at the Winchester Gun Club.

But two restrictions will remain in place the end of the “high fire season,” which depends on several criteria, including receiving a forest average of two inches of rain in the fall. Most reporting stations are below an inch, said forest spokesman Joe Pasinato.

• Open-flame and charcoal campfires remain prohibited in all areas of Los Padres National Forest, including developed campgrounds and designated Campfire Use Sites.

• Recreational target shooting is prohibited in all areas of the Los Padres National Forest except the Winchester Gun Club in Santa Barbara County and the Ojai Valley Gun Club in Ventura County. Hunting with a valid State of California hunting license is exempt from this restriction.

The Zaca Fire started July 4 in the Figueroa Mountain Area, traveling through the San Rafael Wilderness in the northwest side of Santa Barbara County. The Ranch Fire started in the Angeles National Forest, and burned to the foothills near the Ventura County towns of Piru and Fillmore.

Other national forests in California endangered by wild fires that swept through Southern California will reopen this week as well. They include the Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland National Forests, officials said in a statement.

The public should also know:

• Smoking is prohibited in all areas of Los Padres National forest except within an enclosed vehicle, building or designated Campfire Use Site.

• Portable stoves and lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed only in designated Campfire Use Sites with a valid California Campfire Permit. Campfire permits are available free-of-charge at any Forest Service office. You must clear all flammable material for a distance of five feet in all directions from your camp stove, have a shovel available and ensure that a responsible person attends the stove at all times when it is in use.

• Internal combustion engines may be operated only on roads or trails that are designated for such use. (This restriction is in effect year-round.) Make sure that your engine is operating properly and you have an approved spark arrester.

For more information, visit the Los Padres National Forest Web site.

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