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Cal Fire Says Fire Conditions In 2015 Is Worst On Record


Cal Fire says four years of drought and the timing of the rains this spring have combined to make 2015 the worst fire conditions on record.

About a dozen fire chiefs kicked off Wildfire Awareness Week in Pollock Pines on Monday. The backdrop for the meeting -97,717 acres burned in the King Fire last year.

Cal Fire says the timing of this year's rains and four years of drought will combine to make fire conditions in 2015 the worst on record.

"We measure the fuel moisture content of all of the vegetation -the brush and the trees and we track that over the course of time and compare it month to month each year," says Ken Pimlott, Director of Cal Fire. "And we put it through formulas and determine how much energy and how much heat it will put out when it's burning. And we have seen -we saw it last year and we will see it again this year- we'll be reaching records for potential heat output for times of the year that would normally not be burning in those conditions.

Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott urged homeowners to clear space and conserve water.

"We don't have water to water lawns and unnecessary landscaping. So, what that means is, is you need to  remove that vegetation as it dries. We don't want your dry lawn and your dry brush to contribute to more of the fire hazard. So, stop watering your lawn and remove it."

Pimlott says the number of year-round staff the department maintained through the winter was "unprecedented."

Shawna Legarza is the Director of Fire and Aviation with the U.S. Forest Service. She says a firefighter's best tool to fight a fire is water, but fire departments must also  conserve.  

"A lot of things we do with the hot shot crews -helitack and the engine crews- is we look for when is the best time to fight the fire..  We've done night shift a lot in the past. It's not something new. But it might be something even more now as we move into a four-year drought where we can be more efficient with resources -dry-mopping more now in the nighttime too and also in the daytime."

Legarza says some departments have been able to capture and recycle water used in training exercises.

This week is Wildfire Awareness Week in California

Cal Fire has responded to 1,100 fires so far this year. The department typically responds to fewer than 650.

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