In the spring of 1942 a Japanese submarine fired shells onto an oil field in Southern California near Los Padres National Forest. Government officials were relieved that the shelling did not start a forest fire but were determined to provide protection.
The USDA Forest Service organized the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention (CFFP) Program in 1942. It encouraged citizens nationwide to make a personal effort to prevent forest fires. It was a mobilized civilian effort in support of the war effort to protect valuable trees. Timber was a primary commodity for battleships, gunstocks, and packing crates for military transport. Smokey Bear was created as the symbol for wildfire prevention but with a war-time incentive.