Steady rains could pose later problems in mountain areas during fire season

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The steady rains have brought colorful wildflowers to life.

All the greenery in the foothills and mountains brings more people outdoors but Cal Fire also has its eyes on the future. The healthy vegetation will start to dry out at the end of April and into May and create future fire hazards.

"The more light flashy fuels you have, the more susceptible those fuels are to ignitions, right, so some debris off the roadside, people out mowing their grass. That taller grass has more chaff. They might hit something because they can't hit the rock," said Jim McDouglad.

McDougald is Assistant Chief for the Cal Fire Fresno-Kings Unit.

Crews have been out inspecting problem areas and educating homeowners in the higher elevations. It's important homes surrounded by tall grasses and brush be cleared away in the spring.

"They're really nice now and the flowers are starting to come out in the last week so it's really pretty. But as those grasses start to cure and start to dry out we need to have people out there trim those grasses down to 100 feet of defensible space around their homes," McDougald said.

Ranchers are thankful the rains produce free feed for their livestock but Cal Fire crews are already taking note of problem areas.

Above Shaver Lake, all the snow building up on trees which have been dead for years, due to the drought and the bark beetle, have caused many to break. That will create problems in the future.

"They are increasing the fuel load on the ground for the upcoming fire season. So the last few years those trees have been standing. Yes, they will burn but they haven't really been readily available to burn because they're not a ground fuel. Now those are becoming a ground fuel," McDougald.

Crews have also been creating fire breaks in many mountain communities.
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