PERRIS, Calif. (CNS) — Outdoor residential burn permits in Riverside County will be suspended until further notice amid an unusually early start to the fire season due to an ongoing drought and historically low rainfall levels, officials said Sunday.

Beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, and until further notice:

  • Use of campfires is restricted to within established campfire facilities located in established campgrounds open to the public;
  • Agricultural burning in the Palo Verde Valley and Coachella Valley is authorized as required for agricultural rehabilitation
  • All residential outdoor burning of landscape debris such as branches and leaves is prohibited
  • Recreational fires that have constant attendance and are used for cooking, warming or pleasure will be allowed on private property with the property owner’s permission, but must have a total fuel area of 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height

“As we enter the summer months, we are experiencing critical fire behavior due to warmer temperatures and tinder-dry vegetation. We urge residents to comply with this suspension until I determine that it is safe to resume open burning,” Riverside County Fire Chief Bill Weiser said.

The following tips were offered by firefighting officials:

  • Clear all dead and or dying vegetation 100 feet from around all structures
  • Landscape with fire resistant/drought tolerant plants
  • Find alternative ways to dispose of all landscape debris, such as chipping or hauling it to a biomass energy or green waste facility

State rangers or other authorized agents of the director of Forestry and Fire Protection may issue restricted temporary burning permits whenever it can be shown that burning or use of open fire is essential for reasons of public health, safety or welfare.

On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors authorized Weiser to close access to six outdoor recreational locations for the duration of Southern California’s wildfire season to minimize public safety risks. Since 2007, the department has sought and received authorization to close designated grounds — located mainly in the central and southwest portions of the county — typically from June to November. When the season is predicted to be especially challenging, fire officials seek closures early, as Weiser did this year.