Four months into 2013, Cal Fire has responded to more than 680 wildfires – approximately 200 above average for this time of year, according to an April 24 press release by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“Our firefighters have responded to an increased number of wildfires due to the very little rainfall we have received over the past few month,” said Cal Fire Director Chief Ken Pimlott. “Last week in Southern California, we increased our staff and moved our airtankers to their bases, which was needed as we saw several large wildfires over the weekend.”
In late March, the Department of Water Resources conducted this year’s next-to-last snow survey and the low levels have Cal Fire concerned about the impact to this year’s first season, the report states. Snowpack is just 52 percent of average statewide, according to the DWR.
Cal Fire is asking residents to prepare for wildfires by maintaining 100 feet of defensible space; removing all dead plants, grass and weeds within 30 feet of the home; trimming trees to six feet from the ground; removing all leaves, pine needles and debris from roofs; and creating an evacuation plan in case of a wildfire.
Over the past few months, Cal Fire crews responded to an increased number of large wildfires, including the 296-acre Becks Fire in Lake County, the River Fire in Inyo County, which grew to 406 acres, and, most recently, the 311-acre Jurupa Fire in Riverside County.
“In many other areas of the state, we are in the process of training our season firefighters and monitoring weather conditions closely to determine our staffing levels,” Chief Pimlott said. “While we are busy transitioning into fire season, this is the time we want residents to begin preparing their homes for fire season by creating 100 feet of defensible space.”
For more fire safety tips, visit www.readyforwildfire.org or www.fire.ca.gov.