SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO (CBS) — Elevated fire restrictions were in effect Sunday for the Santa Ana Mountains and Ortega Highway in Orange County, officials announced.

Brian Harris, the public affairs officer for the Cleveland National Forest, said the heightened restrictions are due to “dryer fuel conditions, higher temperatures and the likelihood of small fires becoming large fires.”

Under elevated fire restrictions, visitors are asked to bring spark arrestors for all off-highway vehicles and chainsaws, cease using wood or coal fire except in designated campground areas and only smoke within an enclosed vehicle located on developed recreation sites.

In addition, gas, liquid and petroleum stove operations should not be used in the areas of Descanso, Palomar Ranger District and the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness Area on the Trabuco Ranger District.

Other restrictions include only shooting a firearm in pre-designated areas of the forest, which is only allowed during hunting season or for target practice.

“When you see a Smokey Bear sign that reads, ‘Fire danger today is very high,’ you need to know that the likelihood of a wildfire starting, and then quickly developing into a large fire is a strong possibility,” Cleveland National Forest Fire Chief Carlton Joseph said. “The public needs to be extremely careful when recreating within the forest during period of high, very high and extreme fire danger.”

More information about localized fire restrictions for the Ortega Highway area, San Mateo, Orange County and Corona areas is available by calling (951) 736-1811.

Information for forest lands on the San Diego-Riverside County line, including Palomar Mountain, Henshaw, Ramona, Temecula Valley and the Oak Grove areas, can be obtained by calling the Palomar Ranger District at (760) 788-0250.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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