CalFire says it’s already responded to 300 wildfires this year, up from the 50 that would be normal for this time in a typical year. Now the agency is asking landowners to clear defensible space around homes months before they normally would.
Dave Zaski with the North Tahoe Fire Department says people need to be extra careful to avoid causing fires.
“We can’t do anything about lightning," he said. "But the most damaging fires are human caused, like the Rim Fire, where they had a camp ground fire when they shouldn’t have had.”
Zaski said the region has already seen a wild land fire on the Nevada side of the lake. He says that’s unusual because the fire was at an elevation of 7,000 feet.
The drought intensified over the last week in the Western U.S. as the region swelters under a heatwave and firefighters battle major wildfires.
The Soberanes Fire in Monterey County is now 27,326 acres and is 10 percent contained. Meanwhile, the Sand Fire in Los Angeles County is 38,346 acres and is 65 percent.
Dangerous fire weather conditions has prompted one federal agency to impose fire restrictions on public lands in northern California.
UPDATE 9 p.m. (AP) - Officials say a wildfire burning near Big Sur has destroyed 34 homes as fire crews struggle to contain it.
UPDATE 5:30 p.m. - Acting Governor Tom Torlakson declares a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Monterey Counties due to the effects of the Sand and Soberanes fires.