Park Service busts beach bonfire burners on New Year’s Day
National Park Service rangers cited about 20 people Tuesday evening for burning an illegal fire on Ocean Beach just west of the Oceanside water treatment plant.
The fire was about 15 to 20 feet across, said Ranger Eric LaSalle, and was bright enough that witnesses saw it as far away as Stairwell 15 at the north end of Ocean Beach, almost 3 miles away near the Beach Chalet. The size of the fire made authorities concerned that a car had gone over a steep coastal bluff and was burning, so several San Francisco Fire Department vehicles responded to the scene along with LaSalle and another NPS ranger.
It turned out the fire was fueled by shipping pallets and Christmas trees, not a crashed car, but firefighters pulled a hose onto the beach to douse the flames at about 8:30 p.m. Firefighters said no one was hurt in the fire or in the response to it.
At the scene of the fire, it appeared that everyone who was on the beach at the fire had arrived in cars and trucks that were all parked in a narrow strip of pavement that once was part of the Great Highway. Rangers blocked the only entrance to the area with their own SUV, trapping all the vehicles between concrete traffic barriers and the bluff. The rangers then lined up everyone and issued citations before letting people drive away.
One man who was cited said his ticket would cost him $125.
At least on child was among the people at the scene, but rangers said all the people cited were adults. LaSalle declined to say what city the people cited were from, but he said they were “local.”
Rangers said no one is allowed to burn those materials on any part of Ocean Beach, and no fires are allowed outside of designated rings and pits on the beach between Stairwell 21 and Stairwell 28.
More information about the rules for fires at Ocean Beach is available from the National Park Service.