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California Drought: Forest Service Ready For Wildfire Season

Wes Schultz / YubaNet.com

The King Fire burned more than 80,000 acres in two counties and the Tahoe National Forest in September 2014.

Wes Schultz / YubaNet.com

The U.S. Forest Service has finished hiring most of the firefighters needed this summer in California. 

The U.S. Forest Service recently hired 780 additional firefighters. 

John Heil with the Pacific Southwest Regional Office in Vallejo said the temporary positions include smokejumpers, air tanker base managers and dispatchers. 

"We do have 5,000 firefighters total and we are fully prepared for the 2015 fire season,” said Heil. “And that number is just the U.S. Forest Service crew, there is also CAL FIRE, the federal Bureau of Land Management and other agencies that assist as well." 

Beginning a fourth straight summer in drought, many of California's 18 national forests are more susceptible to wildfires. 

"We've tried to take some precautions by doing some prescribed fire projects in 2015. We treated almost 10,000 acres so far, so those types of projects will certainly help in the long term,” said Heil. 

Heil said those projects, also called, "controlled burns," remove brush, shrubs and trees to reduce the outbreak and spread of wildfires. 

The national forests in California range from the 1.7 million acre Klamath National Forest that straddles the Oregon border to the Cleveland National Forest in San Diego County.

The National Interagency Fire Center has predicted that above normal wildland fire potential will develop across portions of California in May and expand across the state in June.  

0520-fire -graphic -p

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