In preparation for the summer wildfire season, U.S. Forest Service crews this month will begin burning off excess vegetation over a 600-acre span south of Idyllwild.
The Forest Service asked homeowners with properties along state Routes 74 and 243 not to be alarmed if they notice smoke and flames rising around Lake Hemet, where a controlled burn is planned during the week of April 15.
Slash piles and dense vegetation will be torched as part of the ongoing Bonita Vista Project focused on removing overgrown areas and deadwood in the vicinity of May Valley Road and SR-74, just below the Keen Camp Summit, USFS officials said.
"Doing this work under these calm weather conditions helps reduce the risk of a catastrophic wildfire posing a threat to mountain communities under harsher conditions," USFS San Jacinto Ranger District Division Chief Dan Felix said.
During the burns, the Keen Camp Trail will be closed to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrian riders, according to the Forest Service.
Agency officials said brush will be ignited using a "heli-torch" mounted on a helicopter, as well as through other methods. Crews on the ground will dig containment lines and monitor the flames.
If winds increase, the operation will be called off, officials said. --City News Service