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Sonora, CA – The triple-digit temperatures and threat of dry lightning strikes combined with projected strong winds throughout much of northern California has Cal Fire beefing up its crews.

Cal Fire spokesperson Daniel Berlant says,  “Around much of the Central Sierra, including Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, for the last week now, because of the increased fire activity that we’ve seen, we remain staffed at a higher than normal level. That staffing will continue through the weekend, as we have the potential for lightning strike fires further north.”

As previously reported, the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning followed by a Fire Weather Watch for the Stanislaus National Forest over the weekend. Cal Fire Director Chief Ken Pimlott stresses, “It is critical that we are prepared for any possible outcome from this red flag event.”

Already, Cal Fire crews have responded to over 2,700 wildfires, an increase of almost 1,000 compared to the average for this time of year.  Berlant adds, “Our increased staffing not only includes staffing reserve fire equipment, ensuring that all of our fire engines are staffed with…a minimum of three firefighters on them, it also allows us to staff additional fire crews 24-hours a day. So, it gives us more firefighters, both on fire engines [and] on fire crews, as well as aircraft and ‘dozers to be able to battle new fires.”

As for what the public can do to help firefighters, Cal Fire offers these tips:

  • Any mowing or weed eating should be done before 10 a.m. (and NEVER during extremely dry or windy conditions)
  • Never use lawn mowers on dry vegetation
  • Ensure campfires are permitted where you are; if so, be sure to extinguish them completely when done
  • Never pull your vehicle over in tall dry grass
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