Fires are an integral part of the California chaparral ecosystem. The forest replenishes itself naturally through fire. Of course fires are damaging and dangerous as well, and for many years fires were not allowed to burn, which caused the forest undergrowth to become very dense, so that when a fire occurs in an area that has not burned for many years the fire burns much hotter. This is one reason our fires have been getting more severe. In addition, many communities have been built in the foothills which naturally are subject to fire over time. Let’s do out part as responsible hikers to avoid any action that may spark a fire. Be especially careful in the dry season, being careful to note the posted fire danger levels.
Here is a Cailfornia Wildfire Information Link with current information about California wildfires.
Here is a link to a map of current fires in the state of California.
I love the mountains and was able to have a rare first hand experience with a major wildfire. Back on Labor Day weekend 2012 my friends and I were backpacking on the East Fork of the San Gabriel River past the Bridge to Nowhere which is a deep and narrow gorge at that point. Around 5 PM on September 2 huge clouds of smoke began to roll over the edge of the canyon walls some 2000 feet above. It was clear that there was a major fire, but impossible to tell where it was. Soon ash started dropping into the gorge, becoming progressively worse rapidly. We opted for safety, packed up quickly, and headed out. It turns out that this was the Williams fire, that had started along the East Fork Road, and was actually about 5 miles away from us. But it was a major fire that eventually burned 4,162 acres over several days. The fire was cresting the ridge top across from us as we got to within a mile or so of the trail head, as the video shows. It’s an amazing sight, but I think once is enough for this experience!