Starting Monday, open burns will be banned in a slew of Bay Area counties to limit the risk as fire season gets underway, fire officials said today.

The ban will be in effective in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, San Benito, Monterey and western San Joaquin counties, said Division Chief Rich Sampson.

"Experience has shown that open burning suspensions effectively aid in preventing fire escapes and significantly reduce the risk of and occurrence of large fires," Sampson said. "This is especially important as these counties are currently experiencing low cumulative rainfall, low humidity, dry fuel moisture levels and increased fire activity."

Burns can still take place for agriculture, land management and fire training, but only with a Cal Fire permit.

Campfires are permitted in designated campgrounds and on private property.

For more information visit www.readyforwildfire.org.

Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469. Follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.