Cal Fire kicks off wildfire awareness week

FRESNO, Calif.

Cal Fire crews were close to full staffing earlier than normal because of the extremely dry conditions around the state. Blackened acreage around homes at Millerton Lake served as a reminder the fire season has started early. Cal Fire dispatched 60 firefighters last week to help fight wildfires.

Cal Fire Fresno County Fire Chief Keith Larkin said, "We had a fairly significant one in the south end of the state as well as ne in the north so we sent resources in both directions."

Larkin said dry grass and brush were almost at levels normally seen in July. He worried about how long the fire season could last. "If those get extended out from a typical two month period to a four month period that's going to be very trying on our resources."

Foothill fire conditions typically peak in August and September. Cal Fire Assistant Region Chief Stan Craig explained, "I can't recall spring conditions ever in my career like we saw last week. The burning conditions are intense. I don't say this to alarm anybody, I say this to heighten awareness."

Cal Fire officials reminded residents to clear 100 feet of defensible space around their homes and to do it early in the morning when it's cool.

They also urged caution while using mowers and weed whackers to clear weeds. Cal Fire deputy director Andy McMurry said, "94% of all the fires caused in California are human caused."

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