Rangers found more than a dozen illegal campfires in the San Bernardino National Forest over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, prompting them Tuesday to remind visitors that wildfire danger remains extremely high, and people lighting warming and cooking fires outside designated areas can face steep fines.

“We really need the public’s help in abiding by our fire restrictions,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Michael Koontz said.

Dry pine needles and excess foliage can feed wildland blazes in the federal preserve, where multiple fires burned thousands of acres late last summer.

According to the Forest Service, a total of 18 illegal campfires were identified between Saturday and Monday.

Anyone caught building or attending an illegal campfire can be federally charged and face fines ranging from $5,000 to $10,000, according to the USFS.

One June 23, the following restrictions took effect throughout the San Bernardino National Forest for the duration of wildfire season, which isn’t expected to end until November:

— camp fires, stove fires and any other type of open burning are allowed only in designated locations, mainly “hosted campgrounds,” listed by the USFS;

— individuals who hold a California Campfire Permit may use portable stoves and lanterns outdoors, as long as they have fuel shut-off valves;

— smoking is prohibited except at specific sites within hosted campgrounds and picnic areas;

— target shooting is not be permitted except in established zones, but users must obtain a special permit in advance; and

— welding is prohibited.

More information on the forest restrictions is available from the USFS’s Idyllwild Ranger Station at 909-382-2922, or via the San Jacinto Mountains Monument Visitors Center, 760-862-9984.

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