David McNew/Getty Images
An L.A. County Fire helicopter drops water near an inmate hand crew last September in the Angeles National Forest. Forest officials say dry conditions mean an early start to the 2013 fire season.
Firefighters stopped a small brushfire in Rancho Palos Verdes Thursday. The fire covered about an acre and sprung up around noon near the intersection of Terranea Way and Palos Verdes Drive South. No evacuations were ordered.
It's the latest in what is proving to be a difficult fire season.
Firefighters around the state have seen a higher-than-average number of wildfires. So far this year, state fire crews have responded to more than 680 fires—some 200 more than usual.
An unusually dry spring is to blame. In the Angeles National Forest above Los Angeles, grass and other plants in the area are as dry now as they typically are in the month of June, according to spokeswoman Nathan Judy.
He says the dry condition pushed the U.S. Forest Service to raise the Fire Danger Level from "moderate" to "high."
Dozens of seasonal firefighters will also be called back to work at the park on Sunday, a few weeks earlier than usual. They'll use the extra time to train, test equipment and clear the forest of brush and dead trees.
Campers won't face new restrictions. They'll still be able to make campfires in designated areas—but they'll notice more signs and pamphlets that warn about the dangers of tossing cigarettes into brush or parking cars on dry tall grass.
The park's iconic Smokey the Bear signs will point out the new danger level starting Friday.