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.
Four consecutive years of drought, millions of dead trees and summer heat, are all factors as thousands of firefighters work to control wildfires in California.
Not much change is expected in drought conditions in California during the summer "dry season" but wildfire danger is increasing, with 66 million dead trees in the Sierra Nevada adding potential fuel.
The U.S. Forest Service says 66 million trees are dead in the Sierra Nevada after four consecutive years of drought in California and a bark beetle infestation.
California is in the fifth consecutive year of drought and water providers continue to urge voluntary conservation, as mandatory statewide rules have ended. Sacramento-area residents reduced their water use by 31 percent in May.
As thousands of federal and state firefighters work to contain wildfires in California and other western states, record-setting heat has prompted warnings from the National Weather Service for parts of California, Nevada and Arizona.