Cal Fire has already called in its 400 seasonal firefighters, including many from Northern California, for an early start to the 2016 season, according to Vicki Gonzalez of KCRA News in Sacramento.
Cal Fire Captain, John Hotchkiss, acknowledged his unit has already responded to a number of vegetation fires since January and they are happening more frequently. His unit is responsible for the Empire Mine Historic State Park in Grass Valley, a very high-severity fire zone that includes many neighborhoods behind the park. Hotchkiss normally starts hiring in late April or May but has started the process even earlier this year thanks to state funding.
According to reports, compared to 2015 and the average fire destruction in the area over the last five years, 2016 has been mild:
- To date, 239 fires have burned 105 acres
- In 2015, 325 fires burned 7,254 acres in the same time period
- The 5-year average is 398 fires burning 2,554 acres
Hotchkiss credits the decrease in fires to the residents who have been more aware of fire dangers and have worked to mitigate the risks. The increased rain and snow this year have also helped.
Still, the unit is cautious, noting that wildfires will ultimately break out due to the growing huge grass crops and new green plants sprouting and hiding dead plants (huge fuel sources for fires).
As Captain Hotchkiss’ unit prepares for the season ahead, so, too, is it important for residents to continue their work preparing for and mitigating the risk of wildfire. Check out NFPA’s Firewise Tips Checklist for Homeowners. It’s easy to download and great to post on your fridge to serve as a reminder of what you can do now to prepare for a possible wildfire in the future.
Learn more at www.firewise.org and get started today!