Cleveland National Forest - Photo courtesy of

Controlled burns were underway Thursday in the Cleveland National Forest just west of Lake Elsinore, where federal firefighters are trying to clear excess vegetation, and motorists and visitors to the area were advised not to be alarmed by the smoke.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the prescribed burn started Thursday morning within the Trabuco Ranger District, near the El Cariso Fire Station off of the Ortega (74) Highway. The operation was likely to continue as long as winds do not strengthen, officials said.

“Smoke may be visible from Highway 74, Interstate 5 and Interstate 15,” according to a USFS statement posted to social media. “Please do not report.”

According to the California Highway Patrol, one call regarding smoke over the forest was received about 11 a.m.

It was unknown how many acres crews might burn to clear excess foliage.

Controlled burns started in November throughout the San Bernardino and Cleveland National forests, but have been cancelled on multiple occasions because of Santa Ana winds and low humidity.

Burns are closely monitored and immediately suspended when there are signs of changing weather.

No road closures were announced in connection with Thursday’s burn.

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