Fire claims popular recreation spots in Southern California

Fire claims popular recreation spots in Southern California
A before photo is placed on the remains of a building leveled in the Woolsey Fire at decimated Paramount Ranch during U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke's visit to the ranch Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Agoura Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (Source: Jae C. Hong)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California residents faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire also are grappling with the destruction of a vast swath of public lands that are popular destinations for hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers.

The Woolsey Fire has charred more than 83 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, where officials announced Wednesday that all trails were closed.

"We understand that folks are curious about how their favorite park spots fared. We promise to share that ASAP," the park service tweeted, warning that the blaze was still active after burning for nearly a week.

Three people have been found dead in fire zone, which spans 153 square miles (396 square kilometers).

The fire broke out Nov. 8 and quickly became one of the largest and most destructive in state history. Firefighters have made steady progress this week, getting it more than halfway contained, but warned many hotspots remain.

CORRECTS PHOTOGRAPHER'S BYLINE TO BRIAN MELLEY, INSTEAD OF REED SAXON - In this Sept. 30, 2018, photo, Cyril Jay-Rayon rides his mountain bike atop a hillside adjacent to Cheeseboro Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area near Agoura, Calif., within the Woolsey Fire burn area. Southern Californians faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire are also grappling with the decimation of a vast swath of public lands that are popular destinations for hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Woolsey Fire has charred more than 85 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area, where officials announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, that all trails were closed. (AP Photo/Brian Melley)
CORRECTS PHOTOGRAPHER'S BYLINE TO BRIAN MELLEY, INSTEAD OF REED SAXON - In this Sept. 30, 2018, photo, Cyril Jay-Rayon rides his mountain bike atop a hillside adjacent to Cheeseboro Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area near Agoura, Calif., within the Woolsey Fire burn area. Southern Californians faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire are also grappling with the decimation of a vast swath of public lands that are popular destinations for hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Woolsey Fire has charred more than 85 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area, where officials announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, that all trails were closed. (AP Photo/Brian Melley) (Source: Brian Melley)

A massive burn scar encompasses more than 30 square miles (80 square kilometers) within the recreation area that stretches from beaches to inland mountains straddling Los Angeles and Ventura counties. It's the largest urban national park in the nation, with more than 30 million visitors every year.

Cyril Jay-Rayon, 52, watched the news with despair as flames engulfed what he called his "main playground" — a rugged area where he rode his mountain bike a few times a week. It includes the famous Backbone Trail, a 65-mile (104-kilometer) route that offers challenging terrain for bikers and hikers who are rewarded with soaring views of the Pacific Ocean.

n this Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 photo, a sign designating the Corral Canyon Park recreation area stands amid landscape charred by the Woolsey fire in Malibu, Calif. Southern Californians faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire are also grappling with the destruction of public lands popular with hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 83 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area. Officials announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, that all trails were closed. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
n this Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 photo, a sign designating the Corral Canyon Park recreation area stands amid landscape charred by the Woolsey fire in Malibu, Calif. Southern Californians faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire are also grappling with the destruction of public lands popular with hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 83 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area. Officials announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, that all trails were closed. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) (Source: Reed Saxon)

"It's just devastating. Those trails are my sanity. It's where I ground myself," he said. "I love the city, but I also love how easy it is to get out into the wild."

People share their recreation areas with wildlife, including 13 mountain lions tracked by biologists via GPS collars. Park officials said two of the big cats were unaccounted for. Four monitored bobcats also were believed to have survived, but their habitats were burned, the park service said.

This Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 file photo shows Paramount Ranch, a frontier western town built as a movie set that appeared in countless movies and TV shows, after it was decimated by the Woolsey fire in Agoura Hills, Calif. Southern Californians faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire are also grappling with the destruction of public lands popular with hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 83 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
This Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 file photo shows Paramount Ranch, a frontier western town built as a movie set that appeared in countless movies and TV shows, after it was decimated by the Woolsey fire in Agoura Hills, Calif. Southern Californians faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire are also grappling with the destruction of public lands popular with hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 83 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) (Source: Marcio Jose Sanchez)

While the damage was still being assessed, officials confirmed that Paramount Ranch's "Western Town," a landmark film location dating to 1927 that included a jail, hotel and saloon, burned to the ground. The TV shows "Westworld," ''The Mentalist" and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" were among the productions that shot there.

Officials took the loss of the film location especially hard, because it was a unique feature among all the national parks.

This Dec. 13, 2015 photo shows Paramount Ranch, a frontier western town built as a movie set that appeared in countless movies and TV shows, in Agoura Hills in Southern California. It was destroyed in the Woolsey fire. Southern Californians faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire are also grappling with the destruction of public lands popular with hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 85 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area, where officials announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 that all trails were closed. (AP Photo/John Antczak)
This Dec. 13, 2015 photo shows Paramount Ranch, a frontier western town built as a movie set that appeared in countless movies and TV shows, in Agoura Hills in Southern California. It was destroyed in the Woolsey fire. Southern Californians faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire are also grappling with the destruction of public lands popular with hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 85 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area, where officials announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 that all trails were closed. (AP Photo/John Antczak) (Source: John Antczak)

"It's so special to share the story of moviemaking that came out of Southern California," recreation area spokeswoman Kate Kuykendall said. "We're the only National Park Service site that interprets American film history."

There's been an outpouring of public support for rebuilding the site, she said, adding that at least three homes of park employees were gutted.

FILE - This Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 file photo shows Paramount Ranch, a frontier western town built as a movie set that appeared in countless movies and TV shows, after it was decimated by the Woolsey fire in Agoura Hills, Calif. Southern Californians faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire are also grappling with the destruction of public lands popular with hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 83 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
FILE - This Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 file photo shows Paramount Ranch, a frontier western town built as a movie set that appeared in countless movies and TV shows, after it was decimated by the Woolsey fire in Agoura Hills, Calif. Southern Californians faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire are also grappling with the destruction of public lands popular with hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 83 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) (Source: Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The fire also destroyed much of nearby Peter Strauss Ranch, which hosted performances by Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson in the 1950s and more recently was a wedding destination.

Jay-Rayon, 52, said customers at the sports nutrition store he owns were coming to terms with the fact that it could be months or longer before they can ride or hike in their favorite wilderness areas again.

In this Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 photo, a sign near the entrance to the Corral Canyon Park recreation area stands amid a landscape charred by the Woolsey fire in Malibu, Calif. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 83 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area. Officials announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, that all trails were closed. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
In this Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 photo, a sign near the entrance to the Corral Canyon Park recreation area stands amid a landscape charred by the Woolsey fire in Malibu, Calif. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 83 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area. Officials announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, that all trails were closed. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) (Source: Reed Saxon)

Also charred was Cheeseboro Canyon, former ranchland featuring trails through rolling grasslands against the backdrop of peaks and canyons. After winter and spring rains, the area is awash in green, but vegetation quickly dries in the persistent sun, fading to yellow and then brown. Grasses and other plants were brittle in the weeks before the fire started.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was touring the Woolsey burn area Thursday.

In this Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 photo, goats are cared for at The Pierce College Equine Center where evacuees are bringing their large animals after being evacuated from the wildfire in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles. Southern Californians faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire are also grappling with the destruction of public lands popular with hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 85 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area, where officials announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 that all trails were closed. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
In this Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 photo, goats are cared for at The Pierce College Equine Center where evacuees are bringing their large animals after being evacuated from the wildfire in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles. Southern Californians faced with the loss of lives and homes in a huge wildfire are also grappling with the destruction of public lands popular with hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 85 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area, where officials announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 that all trails were closed. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel) (Source: Richard Vogel)

About 15 percent of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is National Park Service land. The remainder is made up of private property, California State Parks and other conservation lands.

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In this Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 photo, a sign near the entrance to the Corral Canyon Park recreation area stands amid a landscape charred by the Woolsey fire in Malibu, Calif. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 83 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area. Officials announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, that all trails were closed. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
In this Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 photo, a sign near the entrance to the Corral Canyon Park recreation area stands amid a landscape charred by the Woolsey fire in Malibu, Calif. The Woolsey fire has charred more than 83 percent of National Park Service land within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreational Area. Officials announced Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, that all trails were closed. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) (Source: Reed Saxon)

Follow Weber at https://twitter.com/WeberCM

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Associated Press journalist Brian Melley contributed to this report.