ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST (CBSLA) — The hiker who was rescued thanks to a picture of his soot-streaked legs is now under investigation for evidently wandering into a portion of forest barred to the public after being burned by the Bobcat Fire.
(credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)
Rene Compean, whose text to his roommate of a photo of his legs perched over a canyon led to his rescue, was found Tuesday near Triplet Rocks. Angeles National Forest officials say that landmark is deep within the Bobcat Fire burn area closed to the public for both safety and forest recovery. The area is restricted from public access until at least April 1, 2022.
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“Entering a fire closure zone is a misdemeanor crime,” Capt. Russ Tuttle, chief of law enforcement for the Angeles National Forest, said in a statement. “It can result in up to six months in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.”
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Tuttle said they are reluctant to pursue criminal charges because they don’t want to discourage people from calling for help when needed. But people need to know that these forest areas are closed for their own safety, he said.
In an interview with CBSLA’s Rachel Kim, Compean said he got lost during his hike because so many of the trees and signs in the area had been burned by wildfire.
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The forest east of Angeles Crest Highway (SR-2) and west of Highway 39, where Compean was eventually located, is off limits to the public. The terrain in the area was described as one of the least accessible locations in the San Gabriel Mountains and is known for its steep, rocky terrain and Class 3 climbing, according to Angeles National Forest officials. The area was further impacted last year by the Bobcat Fire, which burned away nearly all forest signs and location markers as it scorched more than 180 square miles, destroyed 171 structures, and threatened the Mt. Wilson Observatory.