With the risk of fire high across California, federal officials announced on Monday that the state's national forests — 20 million acres of land — will be closed temporarily, starting at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.
Officials said by keeping visitors out, it lowers the chances of new blazes starting and people getting stuck in the forest should a wildfire break out. With the exception of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, every national forest in California is managed by the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Region, and Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien said officials did "not take this decision lightly, but this is the best choice for public safety. It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend, when so many people enjoy our national forests."
There are several major fires burning in California, and officials said they are concerned that there is "significantly limited" resources to fight any new blazes. There is also dry brush across the state that could fuel fires, and meteorologists do not expect the hot and windy weather conditions hitting parts of the state to slow down until late fall, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The temporary closure order is set to be lifted at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 17. Because the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest isn't part of the Pacific Southwest Region, it will not close down under the order.