The state firefighting agency today began hiring several hundred seasonal firefighters to staff fire stations from the Sacramento foothills to San Diego County.
"Even with the recent rain that we've had, it has not been enough to really make a dent in our drought conditionk" says Daniel Berlant with CalFire.
"Typically we start bringing on seasonal firefighters in Northern California around mid to late May, even some years into early June," says Berlant. "This early to have to bring on seasonals just shows us how dry conditions are."
Berlant says between January 1st and March 22nd of this year, CalFire has responded to more than 800 wildland blazes. In an average year, the agency responds to fewer than 275 over the same period. Berlant says CalFire will hire 75 additional seasonal firefighters in its Sacramento region and Bay Area units.
The drought intensified over the last week in the Western U.S. as the region swelters under a heatwave and firefighters battle major wildfires.
Dangerous fire weather conditions has prompted one federal agency to impose fire restrictions on public lands in northern California.
Mandatory statewide water conservation rules have ended in California. But Sacramento-area users conserved 22 percent in June, compared to June 2013.
California and federal agencies say a new strategy is needed to save the endangered Delta smelt.
California is in the fifth consecutive year of drought, but state water managers ended mandatory conservation rules. Local water suppliers now determine conservation rates, and some have low or no targets. A water expert says that's 'shortsighted.'