By Mary O’KEEFE
Labor Day is the time when people enjoy the last little bit of summer vacation. The weather, which has been sweltering recently, looks to be cooling off for the weekend with the National Weather Service/Oxnard expecting daytime temperatures in the high 80s and evenings a cool 65 degrees.
For those tapping into the last boost of summer energy to go hiking or having picnics, it is important to remember that the recent heat wave has affected the vegetation and the area is dry which equals a danger for fire.
It has been two years since the Station Fire and although the vegetation may not be as dry as it was then, it is still important to remember how quickly a small brush fire can spread.
The Angeles National Forest raised the fire alert level to “Very High” effective today. “Very High” is the fourth in a six-level, graduated fire-danger rating system.
Although the level has been raised there are no new campfire restrictions within ANF. Open wood and charcoal fires will still be permitted in approved, developed campgrounds and picnic areas. Gas and propane-powered stoves and grills are permitted in non-developed areas with a state Campfire Permit.
“Just be aware of the local rules [that pertain] to where you are going,” said Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Adriane Murrieta of Station 82.
He warned those who go to national or city parks, or even those that stay home, have to have a safe way to dispose of charcoal. There have been several occasions at Crescenta Valley Park when people finish their picnics by dumping the charcoal into the plastic garbage cans located throughout the park instead of using the designated metal cans. The plastic cans have melted or, in one case, actually started a fire in the park.
“We tell those [park visitors] the same thing we tell homeowners: Don’t put [coals] or ashes from your fireplace into plastic containers,” said Glendale Fire Bat. Chief Greg Godfrey. “Those ashes [and coals] are not cool for days.”
In addition to fire safety, it is also important to remember the weather when hiking and to plan accordingly.
“One of our biggest concerns [this weekend] is hiking. We have had a number of mountain rescues,” Godfrey said.
Godfrey and Murrieta agreed that staying hydrated is one of the most important things to do while hiking.
“With this heat, I would say [take] at least two liters of water and never hike alone,” said John Wagner, spokesman for Angeles National Forest.
On Labor Day the ’Crest and Eaton Canyon will be active, Murrieta added.
“Have a plan, tell someone your ETA (estimated time of arrival),” he added.
Montrose Search and Rescue developed a hiking plan that is available online. The plan asks all the questions that would be asked by emergency responders when hikers do not return at their scheduled time.
For the Montrose Search and Rescue Hiking Plan click on the QR code below or go to www.cvweekly.com and search Hiking Plan.