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By Miriam Raftery

Photo of Gate Fire, courtesy ECM news partner 10 News

May 28, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – Aiming to prevent more wildfires, the federal Bureau of Land Management yesterday announced a ban on target shooting, campfires and other high-fire risk activities by issuing State III fire restrictions for all BLM-managed public lands in San Diego County and other Southern California areas.

The announcement comes days after Supervisor Dianne Jacob sent a letter to BLM officials again calling for the ban, after the Gate Fire that a video posted online suggested may have started with shooters on BLM lands in the Dulzura scorched over 2,000 acres. Cal Fire has launched a criminal probe into the Gate Fire. Numerous smaller past fires have been confirmed caused by target shooting on BLM land in the Jamul and Dulzura areas, leaving residents to call for bans on shooting at such sites, particularly during the dry season which is now most of the year. 

The ban also applies to BLM lands in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside Imperial, Inyo and Kern Counties.  BLM RESTRICTION MAPS

Cal Fire previously banned target shooting on state-controlled lands due to fire danger. The new ban extends to federal lands. The fire restrictions will remain in effect until further notice. The ban on recreation shooting lasts until the end of fire season. Anyone violating the order could not only face fines, but also be held criminally liable for damage should a fire result from their actions.

"Despite heavy winter rains, restrictions are needed due to current hot and dry weather conditions and an abundance of dry grass that could be easily ignited," California Desert District Manager Beth Ransel said.

The restrictions prohibit setting, building, maintaining, attending, or using open fire of any kind in the designated areas. They also ban possession or use of all fireworks, including "safe and sane" devices, floating sky lanterns, fire balloons or acetylene balloons.

Controlled flame devices, like portable stoves that use petroleum or liquid petroleum, are allowed by permit. Smoking is permitted only inside enclosed vehicles or camping trailers.

BLM asks everyone outdoors anywhere this season to:

  • Clear a five-foot circle around your campfire
  • Have a shovel and plenty of water on hand and put the fire dead out before leaving
  • Put out cigarettes or cigars when finished and disposed of properly 
  • Park motor vehicles away from locations where exhaust could cause grass or other combustibles to ignite

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