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Dead Trees Could Pose Significant Threat To Outdoor Enthusiasts Labor Day Weekend

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Trees dying from drought and beetle infestation in Mariposa County.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Experts say trees in California's mountains and cities could pose a significant threat to outdoor enthusiasts this Labor Day Weekend. 

CAL FIRE is warning people about the dangers of dead and fire-damaged trees throughout the state.

Deputy Chief Scott McLean says you should avoid setting up camp near them because they could fall without warning.

"Just get into habit - call it muscle memory if you will - pay attention to your surroundings, pay attention to those trees," says McLean. "I love to go camping, but I'm also paying attention more so than ever as to what those trees look like and the potential."

The State of California estimates 102 million dead trees statewide, mainly due to the drought and bark beetle.

Triple-digit temperatures can also lead to a problem known as summer limb drop.

The City of Sacramento's Urban Forester, Kevin Hocker says he's not seeing as much of it as he saw earlier in the summer, but the current heat wave does raise the risk.

"There's no way of predicting ahead of time which tree is going to drop a limb at what time," says Hocker. "We do know when the temperature gets a little bit over a hundred degrees, we're more prone to seeing it."

But Hocker also says, because there haven't been recent rains, another risk factor for sudden limb drop, he doesn't believe the problem will spike like it did back in June.

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