Lack of water could impact how crews battle wildfires this summer

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Pulling rushing water out of a dense river to douse burning fires in wild terrain could become a firefighting tactic of the past. (KFSN)

Pulling rushing water out of a dense river to douse burning fires in wild terrain could become a firefighting tactic of the past.

"We're definitely watching our local waterways very closely to make sure that ponds, season creeks, are still there and available to access when we have major wildfires," said Cal Fire spokesperson Daniel Berlant.

Berlant says crews depend on local rivers and streams for water drops. Helicopters and tankers are designed to move gallons of water and fire retardant to spray burning fuel. But what happens when the water's not there?

"Many of the small creeks and small drainages will probably be dry very early this year. If those are locations where folks have traditionally drawn water from for firefighting, it may not be available as a source this year," said Steven Haugen, watermaster of the Kings River Water Association.

For firefighters, time is of the essence. So Berlant says they're looking at using water tenders or driving inflatable water containers to fires. He says they may even have to use double the amount of aircraft carriers if their flight time increases.

"One of the biggest concerns that we're going to have is that water close and locally available? And if we have to, our helicopters may have to fly an extra distance in order to get that water accessible," said Berlant.

With the record-setting drought creating acres of flammable fuel, Berlant says it's up to us to keep fire crews out of tough situations -- all by being fire ready and fire safe.

"We can have the worst conditions available, and if those sparks don't occur, we're not going to see wildfires," said Berlant.

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droughtfirewildfirefirefighterswatercalifornia watercalifornia
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