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Fires Up In 2011

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Sonora, CA– With even dryer conditions and scorching temperatures this year, it’s been a busy time for Mother Lode firefighters.

“We are up almost double in the amount of fires that we’ve had during this same period,” said CAL Fire Battalion Chief Barry Rudolph. “Last year at this time we had about 40 fires. This year we’ve had 70. Obviously a lot of it can be weather related. The one interesting thing to note is that in all of 2010 we burned a total of 607 acres in the unit, which is really relatively small. This year so far we’ve burned 1645 acres and we’re only half way through the fire season.”

And because of state budget cuts this year,  Rudolph says firefighting staff has also been reduced.

“We’re 25% less of what we were last year,” said Rudolph. “It seems to me that it’s taking longer to clean these fires up. Obviously the aircraft do a tremendous job and are quick, but it’s boots on the ground that get it taken care of.  You can’t help but notice that a reduction in that fighting force is going to show up at some place, either in increase times over the incident or initial attack success.”

Rudolph says we are currently in the middle of peak fire conditions and that it’s even more important that everyone practice defensible space measures. He says to keep the clearing around a home to 30 feet of all flammable vegetation and to take that extra 70 feet to the property line to reduce the fuels even more.

“It’s incumbent upon everybody to be very fire safe,” said Rudolph. “And to make sure that they’re not doing anything out there in the wildlands that could cause a fire.”

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