Officials say it´s the earliest it has happened since the drought years of the 1980s.
The 2004 fire season officially begins at 8 a.m. Monday for the Mother Lode region. Last year the local fire season didn´t begin until June 2nd.
Areas in the declaration by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Tuolumne/Calaveras Unit (TCU) include Tuolumne and Calaveras counties and those eastern portions of San Joaquin and Stanislaus that are within the State Responsibility Area.
Also set to start Monday, all open burning permits on private lands will be suspended due to the increased risk of wildfire. CDF Unit Chief Fred McVay sites unusually hazardous burning conditions, as well as an unacceptable number of escaped debris burns, as the need for the early suspension. He states, “This coming fire season is already shaping up to being a tough one and for public safety, I cannot take the risk of having additional wildfires caused by debris burning escapes.” Under the suspension, campfires are still permitted with permit.
All Mother Lode CDF fire stations will be open and staffed beginning Monday as well. The CDF firefighting Helicopter is currently staffed at Columbia Air Attack Base, with two Air Tankers and an Air Attack spotter plane scheduled to come on base June 16th.
Both Baseline and Vallecito Conservation Camps are fully staffed with a total of 10 fire crews.
Last year fire season opened June 2nd and lasted until November 16th. During that period, CDF responded to 388 fires that burned a total of 4,450 acres in TCU.