CalFire issued a brush clearance warning to homeowners Friday, months before schedule due to fire conditions six times worse than a typical year.
So far in 2014 CalFire has responded to nearly 300 wildfires, resulting in 700 acres burned. January is not usually a fire season month and the number of wildfire is typically closer to 50 and about 100 acres burned, said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).
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Fire season typically begins in May and ends sometime in November, but “this year it never ended,” Berlant said.
Homeowners are being asked to clear 100 feet of “defensible space” around their homes.
Berlant said it is critical that every homeowner, especially those in rural areas, mow and trim the brush around their homes. CalFire is also asking homeowners move all flammable material away from their homes, which includes dead brush, grass, leaves and needles.
“Every year we ask homeowners to do this during the summer, but this year it’s much earlier because of fire season,” Berlant said.
Related article: California Drought Could Affect Santa Clarita If Conditions Persist
Homeowners are also being asked to be extra cautious when operating powered equipment, such as lawnmowers, and use them in the early morning when it is cooler outside and less windy.
This is absolutely connected to the number of red flag warnings the National Weather Service has issued this year, Berlant said.
“The lack of rainfall has resulted in critical conditions,” Berlant said. “And the dusty winds we’ve seen throughout California has only elevated it further.”
Seasonal firefighters in Southern California have continued working due to the extended fire season and Northern California has already begun hiring seasonal firefighters, Berlant added.
Although CalFire hopes the extended fire season will end soon, weather forecasts do not predict we will see rain anytime soon, which led Gov. Jerry Brown to call a State of Emergency due to a drought one week ago.
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During the announcement Brown requested state officials assist farmers and communities economically affected by water shortages and all state agencies use less water, hire more firefighters and initiate an expanded water conservation public awareness campaign.
“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” Brown said in a statement. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.”
Source: Santa Clarita News