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Cal Fire opens fire season early

CAL FIRE has an air attack fleet stationed at Charles Schulz Airport in Santa Rosa.

CAL FIRE has an air attack fleet stationed at Charles Schulz Airport in Santa Rosa.

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Following the recent warmer temperatures and drying conditions, Cal Fire has increased its staffing in Northern California in continued preparation for fire season.

Starting yesterday, Monday, May 5, Cal Fire transitioned into fire season across the Bay Area and Sacramento region, including the counties of Amador, El Dorado, Nevada, Yuba, Placer, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Sonoma, Lake, Napa, Solano, Yolo, Colusa, and parts of Stanislaus and San Joaquin.

Since late January, Cal Fire has been hiring and training seasonal firefighters well ahead of schedule in order to augment its full-time firefighting force. “The drought has set the stage for an already busy fire season,” said Kelley Gouette, operations chief for Cal Fire’s Northern Region. “We’ve been ramping up to meet the elevated threat of wildfire since January and this transition into fire season in the northern region is more than a month ahead of schedule.”

This year, Cal Fire has already responded to more than twice as many fires as average with nearly 1,200 wildfires to date. With fire season now officially underway in these areas, Cal Fire is asking homeowners to ensure that they are prepared for wildfires and that every home has 100 feet of defensible space.

Cal Fire offers tips to homeowners including:

• Maintain 100 feet of defensible space.

• Clear all pine needles and leaves from the yard, roof and rain gutters.

• Trim branches six feet from the ground.

• Landscape with fire resistant/drought tolerant plants.

Residents and visitors are also warned to take steps to prevent wildfires by remembering that “One Less Spark,” means “One Less Wildfire.”

• Use trimming, mowing and powered equipment outdoors before 10 a.m.

• Check to ensure burning outdoors is allowed in your area. Cal Fire has banned outdoor burning in many areas or has required a burn permit.

• Completely extinguish all campfires.

• Make sure trailer chains and other parts of your vehicle are not dragging on the road.

For more information on preparing for wildfires and defensible space, see readyforwildfire.org.

Visit Drought.ca.gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought, and for more water conservation ideas, visit SaveOurH2O.org.