Extremely dry vegetation and an increasing fire danger has prompted Los Padres National Forest officials to add more fire restrictions that went into effect Thursday, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said.

Restrictions will remain in effect and will be rigorously enforced until the end of the declared fire season, the spokesman said.

Wood and charcoal fires are now prohibited in all areas of Los Padres National Forest, including designated campfire use sites, the spokesman said.

Individuals with a valid California campfire permit can still use portable stoves and lanterns that burn gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel but only within the designated campfire use sites.

An area of 5 feet in all directions from the camp stove must be cleared of all flammable materials, a shovel must be immediately available and a responsible person must attend the stove at all times when it’s in use.

California campfire permits are available as a free download from the Los Padres National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf as well as at all Forest Service offices.

Previously announced restrictions remain in effect, including a ban on recreational target shooting in all areas unless authorized by a special use permit.

Smoking also remains prohibited in all areas except within an enclosed vehicle, a building or a designated campfire use site, and fireworks are always prohibited in all areas of the forest.

Internal or external combustion engines must have a spark arrester properly installed and maintained and may only be operated on roads and trails specifically designated for their use.

Violators are subject to a $5,000 fine and six months in jail and could be liable for the full cost of any fire suppression efforts resulting from the violations.

For more information on current conditions and restrictions, visit the website listed above or contact the Santa Lucia Ranger District office in Santa Maria at 805-925-9538, the Santa Barbara Ranger District office in Santa Barbara at 805-967-3481 or the Los Padres National Forest headquarters in Goleta at 805-968-6640.

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News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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