As Labor Day weekend approaches, friends and families will visit outdoor recreation areas throughout Madera, Mariposa and Merced counties. In anticipation of the increased outdoor activities, CAL FIRE Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit is urging everyone to exercise extreme caution. The increase in fire activity this year, coupled with record-setting drought conditions, requires us to take every step possible to prevent new wildfires from starting. From Jan. 1, 2014 through Aug. 9, 2014: Cal Fire has responded to 4,009 fires for 53,392 acres burned. A 32% increase in fire activity and nearly a 20% increase in acres burned over an average year. Due to extreme fire conditions areas may be closed to visitors and campers. While making your Labor Day vacation plans please contact your destination directly to obtain current information on closures and fire restrictions. Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained before you depart and remember to check your tire pressure and exhaust system. Dragging tow chains will throw sparks so make sure you have the correct size trailer ball and hitch and the chains are adjusted to the proper length. The statewide burn ban continues to be in effect for all statewide responsibility areas. All residential “dooryard” burning, forest management, hazard reduction, and other industrial-type burning are suspended until further notice. For more information on how you can prevention wildfires, please visit www.PreventWildfireCA.org. Remember, one less spark means one less wildfire.