Unprecedented fire season ahead

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Unprecedented drought means an unprecedented fire season. Officials say this year will bring an unprecedented number of crews to fight those fires. Cal Fire says the drought has forced the agency to change its firefighting message.

It won't take much for dry brush to spark. 1100 fires across the state in the first four months of the year. That's double what it usually is. Here locally, 11 fires here just this week. Cal Fire says they can't fight fires alone.

What's normally green this time of year, is now a dusty brown. What used to be grass, is crackling brush. While many agree it's not pretty; fire fighters see fuel.

Cal Fire's Director, Chief Ken Pimlott said, "Some unprecedented things have gone on in terms of responding to these conditions."

For the first time, Cal Fire is asking homeowners to let their lawns go. It's a historic move seeing as they usually ask mountain residents to use that space for fire protection.

Pimlott said, "Let your lawns dry, but remove the vegetation so dead lawn not a fire hazard in itself."

Cal Fire's state leader says the governor is sparing no resources. Brown is providing more fire fighters, air tankers and officers and he's putting more money towards outreach. It's unprecedented staffing; a $100 million boost to California's firefighting agency.

"We're seeing fires escape 15 miles in one day," said Pimlott. "40k acres in an afternoon, we're seeing fires grow an explosive rate obviously we're concerned."

This, while environmentalists watch and wonder about the long term affects of such drastic conditions.

Jim Branham, executive officer of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy said, "Let's understand from an air quality, water, habitat and recreational impacts to large damaging fires."
Officials add, 95 percent of fires are human caused. They're asking that everyone take responsibility.

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