Sacramento, CA — CAL FIRE’s proactive plans to get a big jump on fire season include 400 seasonal firefighters who are already busily at work.
State fire officials say despite the welcome recent rains, prevailing drought conditions are keeping much of the state primed for large, damaging wildfires. CAL FIRE Director Chief Ken Pimlott wryly notes that the wet weather now will not revive the millions of trees that have already succumbed to the drought and related bark beetle infestations. “Our firefighters are taking advantage of the weather…ensuring that we are doing everything we can to prevent the types of wildfires we experienced last year,” he states.
The seasonal fire crews are focusing on prevention, fuels reduction and defensible space projects in targeted areas while remaining available to respond to wildfires. CAL FIRE reports 240 fires have already occurred since the beginning of the year. Crews are currently doing dead tree removals; creating and maintaining fire breaks; removing dense brush; performing prescribed burns; and providing outreach education to homeowners on creating defensible space around their residences and outbuildings. Fire officials stress that homeowners also need to step up to maintain the state’s mandated 100 feet of defensible space around residences and outbuildings. This includes removing weeds and other dead or dying vegetation; limbing up tree branches; and cleaning leaves and debris from roofs and gutters.
Locally Addressing Landowners’ Tree Mortality Issues
CAL Fire spokesperson Lynne Tolmachoff also notes, “Our firefighters are working with the local government folks in each county to try to determine where best to utilize the firefighters — to help with either the fuel reduction projects…either clearing dead and dying brush under already dead trees also, and in the process, possibly removing other larger trees from structures, particularly homes.” She adds, “You know, we can’t remove every one of the millions of dead trees in the state, but if we can at least get them cleared out from around peoples’ properties…it gives them a fighting chance.”
Tolmachoff acknowledges the great expenses involved to bring down trees on peoples’ properties, particularly the larger ones. “CAL FIRE can assist owners in determining their best course of action when it comes to dealing with dead and dying trees.” She advises property owners and their neighbors can work together to prepare their community for the upcoming fire season. “Contact your local CAL FIRE unit to see what programs are available in your area, such as chipper programs. We can also perform defensible space inspections to show you what needs to be done to give your home a fighting chance against a wildfire.”
For details on how homeowners and tenants should prepare for fire season, click here.