Summary of Continued Closures Into 2004
As of 12/17/04, the only San Diego County parks that remain closed are Oakoasis and El Capitan.
The following tables are older information.
Place Closed Until Los Padres National Forest, east half of the Sespe Wilderness and some national forest lands immediately adjacent to the Sespe Wilderness ? San Bernardino National Forest, burned portions 15 March 2004 All areas below are in San Diego County Cleveland National Forest, Descanso District north of I-8 ? Cuyamaca Rancho State Park 2/3 of the trails still closed in May 2004 El Capitan County Open Space Reserve ? Hellhole Canyon Open Space Reserve ? Iron Mountain, Poway, beyond Iron Mountain Peak ? Lake Jennings ? Mission Trails Regional Park, burned portion (1/3 of park on north side) ? Mount Gower Open Space Reserve, Ramona ? Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary, north of Lakeside indefinitely William Heise County Park (campsites only) ? Volcan Mountain Wilderness Park ?
Place Reopened on Iron Mountain, Poway, from Highway 67 to Iron Mountain Peak 23 December 2003 William Heise County Park (trail system) 26 December 2003 Cuyamaca Rancho State Park 1/3 of the trails reopened on the south and east end of the park 1 May 2004 Goodan Ranch Regional Park / Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve August 2004
Sources: North County Times 11/16/03, B1; 12/24/03, B3; 4/24/04; San Diego Union Tribune 11/19/03, NI-1; 12/24/03, NI-1; 12/27/03, NI-1,2; and sources listed below.
See also latest information on San Diego County parks.
Burned Area Emergency Response which deals with safety hazards and threats caused by the fires. See especially their updates, maps and reports.
The entire Angeles National Forest was reopened Friday, 7 November 2003. It was closed on 27 October 2003. (Source: Dave Anderberg, 10/27/03, 11/6/03; ANF website 10/28/03.)
The unburned portion of the San Bernardino National Forest was reopened Friday, 7 November 2003. The burned portions remain closed through March 15, 2004. The entire San Bernardino National Forest was closed on 25 October 2003 due to the Old Fire. (Source: Idyllwild Forest Service Office)
The closure portion is roughly "west of a line following Hwy 330 from the southern boundary of the Forest to Hwy 18, then east to Green Valley Road, then north to the intersection of Forest Road 3N14 and the northern Forest boundary. Also temporarily closed are Forest Roads 1N09 and 1N13". (quote from San Gorgonio Wilderness Association; see that link for the detailed description of the closure area)
The Sespe Wilderness and Condor Sanctuary in the Los Padres National Forest was closed on 26 October 2003 due to the Piru Fire. On 1 November 2003, the fire area closure was reduced and now applies only to the east half of the Sespe Wilderness and some national forest lands immediately adjacent to the Sespe Wilderness.
The Cleveland National Forest is now open except for the Descanso District north of I-8, which remains closed. The only open portion of the Descanso District is the Sibbetz Campground. The entire Cleveland National Forest was closed as of 27 October 2003. (Source: L.A. Times 11/11/03, F11; Lora Lowes, CNF spokesperson, quoted in L.A. Times, 10/28/03, F3.)
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park was completely burned, and state Parks and Recreation Department officials say it "may not reopen until spring or beyond". (Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/5/03, B1)
All state parks in Los Angeles and Ventura counties were closed on 27 October 2003. (Source: L.A. Times, 10/28/03, F3.) They have probably been reopened by 7 November 2003.
Conditions change rapidly with fires, and it is difficult for any single site to stay up to date on current conditions. Hence your best bet to find out if a trail or area is closed is to call the agency responsible for your area of interest.
For places to hike outside the National Forests, see Nearby Hiking Areas.
This has been the worst wildfire year ever in the state of California. As of 10/29/03, 959,955 acres had burned this year, with at least 79% of the total from the Southern California fires listed in the table below. The previous California state record was 873,000 acres in 1987. (Source: L.A. Times, 10/31/03, A1)
Three of these fires already surpass the Willows Fire, which burned 63,486 acres in the San Bernardino Mountains in 1999, and was said to be "Southern California's largest forest fire in eight decades". That was probably a slight exaggeration, since the Laguna Fire in 1970 burned 175,425 acres.
The largest fire in 2003, the Cedar Fire, is the largest fire ever in California, surpassing the 220,000 acres of the Matilija Fire in Ventura County, 1932. (San Diego Union Tribune, 10/29/03, A6). However, none of these fires even come close to being records in the United States, with at least seven fires each burning over 1 million acres, including three that each burned 3 million acres or more.
The Pines Fire near Julian in 2002 burned 61,690 acres, and was the sixth largest fire in the County's history. (The Laguna Fire was the largest.)
For comparison, San Diego County has 1,348,630 wildland acres. As of August 2003, 645,009 (47.8%) of those wildland acres have not burned for at least 50 years, and 413,113 (30.6%) burned between 21 and 50 years ago. Those numbers are of course now much lower after the 2003 fires.
2003 fires, as a percent burned of major geographic subdivisions
* The Los Padres National Forest, with over 2 million acres, is a much larger area than the San Gabriel Mountains or San Bernardino Mountains. Hence to gauge the local impact of the fires at Piru and Simi, we have simply taken an area the size of the San Gabriel Mountains to use as a comparison.
% burned Area # Acres # Acres burned in 2003 30 San Diego County wildlands 1,348,630 410,254 27 Santa Susanna Mountains and southeast Los Padres NF* 630,000 172,195 14 San Bernardino Mountains 640,000 91,281 11 San Gabriel Mountains 630,000 72,000
Clearly, San Diego County and the Santa Susanna Mountains and southeast Los Padres NF are the areas most heavily impacted by far. Almost the entire mountainous region in each area burned.
For San Diego County, the impact is even greater than given in the table above, since nearly the entire mountainous area of the county burned this year or last year in the Pines Fire. Only the Palomar Mountains and the area east of Otay Mountain, along with small patches between the major fires, were not burned. Most of the wildlands unburned in 2002 or 2003 are coastal or desert environments.
2003 fires larger than 1,000 acres in order of size (Total from table is 774,500 acres)
In the table below, the word containment does not mean the fire is out. It only means that there is a perimeter around the fire that should prevent the fire from growing outside that boundary. A fire can be 100% contained but still be 0% controlled, meaning it is burning freely within the perimeter of the fire. Only when a fire is 100% controlled is there no danger that the fire may jump the containment border.
Also, note that when fires merge, one part of the fire may be considered contained, like the Verdale Fire, even though the fire it has merged with is still out of control (in this case the Simi Incident Fire).
# Acres %
Name Location Details Date Updated 280,278 100 Cedar Fire central to western San Diego County (Julian - Ramona - Poway - Miramar - Scripps Ranch - Tierrasanta - Crest - Alpine area) This is the largest fire ever in California. The Cedar Fire began 25 October 2003 at Cedar Creek and Boulder Creek Road. Control of the fire is estimated to occur on 11/16/03. 11/6/03 108,204 100 Simi Incident Fire Simi, Ventura County The fire began 26 October 2003, and was next to the Piru and Verdale Fires. 11/6/03 91,281 100 Old Fire southwestern San Bernardino Mountains The fire began 25 October 2003 and included the Playground Fire. The fire began at Old Waterman Road and Hwy 18, and is in the vicinity of Lake Arrowhead and south. The fire merged with the Grand Prix Fire on 26 October 2003.
About 30,000 acres were apparently transferred from the Grand Prix Fire to the Old Fire, accounting for the large fluctuations in the numbers for each fire in late October.
11/6/03 69,914 100 Grand Prix Fire southeastern San Gabriel Mountains The fire began 21 October 2003 in the Fontana / Rancho Cucamonga area. Affected areas include Claremont, La Verne, Mt. Baldy, Lytle Creek. The fire merged with the Old Fire on 26 October 2003. On 10/27/03, this fire was divided into two incidents. The portion in L.A. County and the Angeles National Forest will be called the Padua Fire, with the rest continuing to be known as the Grand Prix Fire. The numbers here combine both fires. On 11/6/03, the Padua Fire was 10,446 acres and the Grand Prix Fire was 59,448 acres.
About 30,000 acres have apparently been transferred from the Grand Prix Fire to the Old Fire, accounting for the large fluctuations in the numbers for each fire in late October.
11/6/03 63,991 100 Piru Fire Santa Susanna Mountains, west of Piru Lake The fire began on 23 October 2003, and is next to the Simi Incident and Verdale fires. 11/14/03 56,700 100 Paradise Fire Valley Center area, north San Diego County The fire began 10/26/03. Map 11/6/03 46,291 100 Otay Fire Otay Mesa, southern San Diego County The Fire, called the Mine Fire initially, and the Dulzura Fire in some newspapers, began at Mine Canyon Road on 26 October 2003. The fire was 100% contained on 10/27/03. 10/27/03 18,705 100 Coyote Fire Chihuahua Valley, north San Diego County The fire began 16 June 2003 from a lightning strike, and was contained on 24 June 2003. 10/29/03 10,000 100 Mountain Fire Riverside County, near Lake Skinner The fire began 26 October 2003. 10/29/03 9,000 100 Verdale Fire Santa Susanna Mountains, four miles west of Santa Clarita in the Val Verde area This fire is next to the Simi Incident and Piru fires. It was contained by 10/28/03. 10/29/03 6,892 100 Roblar 2 southern Santa Margarita Mountains, Camp Pendleton The fire began on Camp Pendleton on 21 October 2003, and is now only burning in the Zulu Impact Area on Camp Pendleton. 10/28/03 4,300 100 Canyon Fire Soboba, near Pine Cove, Riverside County (near the town of San Jacinto) The fire began on 7/25/03, and was controlled 8/1/03. 10/30/03 2,857 100 Pass Fire Riverside County, Reche Canyon area The fire began on 10/21/03, and was controlled on 10/24/03. 10/27/03 >2,000 100 Benton Fire Between Sage and Hemet in Riverside County The fire began on 7/24/03, and was 60% contained on 7/26/03, which was the last information we read about it. 10/30/03 >1,600 100 Agua Dulce Fire San Gabriel Mountains The fire began in early July 2003, and was 25% contained on 7/4/03, which was the last information we read about it. 10/29/03 1,352 100 Bridge Fire western San Bernardino Mountains The fire began 5 September 2003 in the vicinity of the City Creek Fire Station on Hwy 330, 3.5 miles south of Lake Arrowhead, and was controlled on 11 September 2003. 10/27/03 1,155 100 Tejon Fire Grapevine Pass, San Gabriel Mountains The fire began 6/30/03, and was controlled on 7/2/03. 10/30/03
External links with fire information, in order from national to state to county fire information, with miscellaneous links at the bottom:
- Operational Significant Event Imagery has superb enhanced satellite images of fires. See for example 26 October 2003 12:55 PM PST.
- USFS Current Information: Large Incidents Maps and MODIS Fire Imagery. An especially interesting map is fire extent as detected by MODIS, which shows all the recently-burned areas.
- NOAA Satellite-Detected Smoke Plumes and Hotspots
- National Park Service Fire News for fires administered in California by NPS
- Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center Intelligence, Detailed Situation Report. Use this for forest updates.
- Angeles NF - Current Conditions - Fire
- Los Padres NF
- San Bernardino NF Current Conditions
- Cleveland NF Current Conditions
- CDF incident information for fires in California administered by California Department of Forestry
- Los Angeles County Fire Department
- Ventura County Fire
- Riverside County Fire
- San Bernardino County Fire
- IncidentControl.com: status and photos of Old and Grand Prix Fires (http://www.incidentcontrol.com/); link discontinued on 10/29/03.
- Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center Intelligence: Incident Intelligence News & Notes: when updated, good source for all southern California
- rimoftheworld.net: Old Waterman Fire Information and other news.
- Mountain Area Safety Taskforce: information on vegetation mortality and related fire hazard conditions in the San Bernardino-San Jacinto Mountain area, current press releases
Copyright © 2003-2004 by Jane Strong and Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to us at this source:
Comments and feedback: Jane Strong | Tom Chester
Last update: 17 December 2004.