The US Forest Service will close eight national forests in central and southern California after a new, fast-growing wildfire trapped more than 200 campers over the weekend, the agency announced on Monday.
The closures, which went into effect on Monday evening, include the Stanislaus, Sierra, Sequoia, Inyo, Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland National Forests. In addition, all developed Forest Service campgrounds and day use areas in California are closed to visitors, and all ignition sources, including camp stoves, are banned in national forests throughout the state. In a video announcing the decision, Regional Forester Randy Moore said the closures would be in effect “until further notice,” and would be reevaluated daily.
California’s latest large blaze, the Creek Fire, started on Friday afternoon and has since grown to nearly 144,000 acres, much of it in the Sierra National Forest. On Saturday, National Guard helicopters rescued 207 people after the fire trapped them near Mammoth Pool Reservoir. Photos from the cockpit of a National Guard Chinook showed flames just a few dozen yards from where the aircraft had landed.
According to the Forest Service, the cause of the Creek Fire is still under investigation.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said that state fire authorities believed that pyrotechnics from a gender reveal party started the Creek fire. In fact, Cal Fire believes that a smoke-generating device began another blaze, the El Dorado fire. BACKPACKER regrets the error.