VALLEJO (CBS SF) – The U.S. Forest Service on Monday ordered the closure of national forests in California through mid-September, amid ongoing massive wildfires burning throughout the state.
According to a statement from the agency, all California national forests in the Pacific Southwest Region will be closed from August 31 at 11:59 p.m. through at least September 17. Closed forests stretch from the Klamath and Modoc forests in far Northern California, to the Cleveland National Forest in Southern California.
The order does not affect the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which has a small portion in eastern California but is largely located in Nevada.
"We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety," said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. "It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend, when so many people enjoy our national forests."
Several national forests in Northern California have already been closed as firefighters battle some of the largest wildfires in state history. On Monday, the Caldor Fire continues to rage in the Eldorado National Forest as it approaches the Tahoe Basin, prompting the evacuation of the entire city of South Lake Tahoe. Meanwhile, the Dixie Fire has burned large swaths of the Lassen and Plumas forests since it erupted last month.
Some exemptions apply, including first responders performing official duties, landowners and residents needing to access their properties.
According to the Forest Service, more than 6,800 wildfires have burned more than 1.7 million acres in the state of California so far this year.
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