Fires

Cal Fire ramps up seasonal staffing to prevent wildfires

A firefighter with Cal Fire chats with crew members of California Department of Corrections at the The Butte Fire last season. Cal Fire already has responded to 240 wildfires since Jan. 1, 2016 and has boosted its staffing by 400 seasonal firefighters statewide. The additional crews will focus on fire prevention, fuel reduction and defensible space programs.
A firefighter with Cal Fire chats with crew members of California Department of Corrections at the The Butte Fire last season. Cal Fire already has responded to 240 wildfires since Jan. 1, 2016 and has boosted its staffing by 400 seasonal firefighters statewide. The additional crews will focus on fire prevention, fuel reduction and defensible space programs. aseng@sacbee.com

With the arrival of spring, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced that it is increasing staffing for fire season, not only to fight wildfires but also to help prevent them.

Cal Fire already has responded to 240 wildfires since Jan. 1 and has boosted its staffing by 400 seasonal firefighters statewide. The additional crews will focus on fire prevention, fuel reduction and defensible space programs, according to a Cal Fire news release. Projects include removing dead trees, creating and maintaining fire breaks, removing dense brush, performing prescribed burning and educating homeowners about defensible space.

“While the winter rain has helped decrease the fire risk in some areas, it has not been enough to end the drought,” Chief Ken Pimlott, director of Cal Fire, said in a written statement. “The rain is welcome, but it will not revive the millions of trees that have already died due to drought and bark beetle. Our firefighters are taking advantage of the weather and ensuring that we are doing everything we can to prevent the types of wildfires we experienced last year.”

Cal Fire officials said it is critical that residents do their part to prepare for wildfires by maintaining 100 feet of defensible space around their homes and property. This includes removing weeds and other dead or dying vegetation, pruning lower tree branches, and clearing leaves and debris from roofs and gutters.

For more information on how to create defensible space, see Cal Fire’s Ready for Wildfire website, ReadyForWildfire.org.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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