Eight national forests in California will be closed temporarily due to "unprecedented and dangerous fire conditions" amid a dangerous heat wave in the western part of the United States, authorities said Monday.
"The wildfire situation throughout California is dangerous and must be taken seriously. Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are worsening, and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire," said Randy Moore, regional forester for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region in a statement.
Stanislaus National Forest, Sierra National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, Inyo National Forest, Los Padres National Forest, Angeles National Forest, San Bernardino National Forest, and Cleveland National Forest will be temporarily shut down starting at 5 p.m. local time Monday (0000 GMT Tuesday), according to the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region.
The agency noted that most of California remains under the threat of unprecedented and dangerous fire conditions with a combination of extreme heat, significant wind events, dry conditions, and firefighting resources that are stretched to the limit.
Record or near-record temperatures have been verified in recent days across southern California. The temperature in Woodland Hills hit a searing 121 degrees Fahrenheit (49.44 degrees Celsius) on Sunday, the highest temperature ever recorded in Los Angeles County.
"We are bringing every resource to bear nationally and internationally to fight these fires, but until conditions improve, and we are confident that National Forest visitors can recreate safely, the priority is always to protect the public and our firefighters. With these extreme conditions, these temporary actions will help us do both," Moore said.
The agency also announced prohibition of the use of any ignition source on all national forest system lands throughout California and closure of all developed campgrounds and day-use sites on national forests in the state.
Officials said that they will re-evaluate wildfire situation daily as conditions change.
The Forest Service manages 18 National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region, which encompasses over 20 million acres (around 80,937 square km) across California, according to the agency's website.
Wildfires have burned over 2 million acres (around 8,093.7 square km) in California so far this year, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Monday in a statement, adding that there have been 8 fatalities and more than 3,300 structures destroyed.
As of Monday morning, there are over 14,100 firefighters on the frontlines across California, according to the department.
"While firefighters continue their battle on the current major wildfires, CAL FIRE and fire departments across the State remain prepared for potential more significant wildfires due to critical fire weather," it said.