Cal Fire plans to hire more crews due to dry conditions

FRESNO, Calif.

Firefighters from all around the state traveled to the Valley last year to battle the massive Rim Fire, which tore through 400 square miles. But crews believe this year could be worse because the severe drought dripping California right now is drying up vegetation, everywhere.

"With these very dry conditions, fire is able to spread much quicker than normal, especially this time of year," said Cal Fire's Ryan Michaels.

In the past three months alone, Cal Fire went to more than 800 wildfires. But in an average year, they typically combat 300 or fewer fires. In April, 25 season firefighters will join local stations to deal with the sharp increase in calls.

"As we progress into the summer we will go into our peak levels, so we will add on more people then. This is our typical staffing arrangement, it's just much earlier in the season than anticipated" said Michaels.

Crews say the recent rain showers helped soak the parched soil and generate some green grass. But we need many more longer downpours to create a safer terrain.

"What we are concerned with is the brush and vegetation, the timber that are very, very dry. This little rain unfortunately isn't making much of an impact to that," added Michaels.

Firefighters want everyone in the Valley to clear brush and weeds on their property at least 100 feet around their homes. They say creating that defensible space is crucial to keeping your home safe.

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