The United State Forest Service Friday closed the popular hiking area of Cucamonga Canyon to all public use becuase of "extreme fire danger."
According to John Miller with the Forest Service, the closure became effective at midnight.
"Forest officials have evaluated the conditions in the area and made the determination that a full closure of the canyon due to severe drought, extremely dry conditions and limited evacuation and escape routes out of the canyon in the event of a wildland fire," he said in a press release. "The 1,650 acre closure will remain in effect until significant rainfall reduces the threat of wildland fire."
Miller says this is the second year the canyon has faced "severe drought," and has received only 25 percent of normal rainfall. That, combined with an extended period of high temperatures, has dried out the area.
“When you factor in that this year Southern California wildfires have demonstrated extreme fire behavior, rapidly burning several thousand acres in areas of similar fuel types and conditions, our best course of action is to close the area,” said District Ranger Gabe Garcia.
Miller added that Forest Service officers and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department will "aggressively enforce" the closure area. Those caught violating the order can be fined up to $5,000.
Groups or organizations who trespass can be fined up to $10,000 and face jail time up to six months, he added.
"The Rancho Cucamonga Fire District' supports the temporary closure of Cucamonga Canyon. We're facing potentially extreme fire conditions and when you consider the limited access in and out of the canyon, it's a high risk area for both visitors and emergency responders," said Mike Bell, Fire Chief for Rancho Cucamonga Fire Protection District.