Beginning today, the Riverside County Fire Department will suspend the issuance of burning permits in unincorporated communities as a safety precaution.
"Critical fire weather and (the) acute dryness of vegetation" warrants rescinding open-burning privileges, with few exceptions, said Fire Chief John Hawkins, who, under the state Public Resources Code, has the authority to impose a ban on open burning when public safety is at risk.
The burning prohibition does not apply to cities, which issue their own permits, or to farmers clearing land in the Coachella and Palo Verde valleys.
Campfires will be allowed, but only in designated areas, according to fire department officials.
The agency will continue to issue temporary permits for cooking fires in places where there is no alternative means of preparing food. Warming fires will also be permitted "when weather conditions exist to justify the request," Hawkins said.
He said that in all cases, sites must first be inspected by firefighters from the nearest station to ensure they're safe.
Anyone who violates the ban and accidentally ignites a wildfire could be held liable for the damage it causes, according to the county Fire Department.
The ban, which formally goes into effect at 8 a.m., will remain in effect until Hawkins rescinds it.