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Firefighters anticipate big fire season

Posted: Monday, Apr 29th, 2013

In June of 2008 the Trabing Fire in Watsonville became a towering avalanche off flames within minutes and raced over hundreds of acres. (File photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Though the fire season has not officially started, fire officials are gearing up for a potentially big battle this year.

The lack of rain so far — as well as rain in forecasts — may trigger early training and staffing, said Ian Larkin, deputy chief at Cal Fire in Felton.

“We have requested permission to hire seasonal firefighters on May 6,” Larkin said. “We will then give them a week of training before they staff our engines starting May 13. This is three weeks ahead of normal staffing.”

As a result of the low cumulative rainfall, low humidity and dry fuel moisture levels that are plaguing this season, Cal Fire announced Monday that it suspended all open burning within state responsibility and local responsibility areas under contract to Cal Fire in Santa Cruz County and eight other counties.

Since the beginning of the year, Cal Fire has responded to more 680 wildfires, which is more than 200 over the average for this time of year.

The current snowpack is just 52 percent of average statewide.

Capt. Tony Arnold of Cal Fire at Corralitos said residents should take time to create defensible spacing around their homes and outbuildings. He said residents should create a 30-foot fuel exclusion zone around structures. This means removing all dead plants, grass, and weeds from within 30 feet of your home. In this zone residents should limit the number of ornamental plants and try to use fire resistant plants. Limbs that dangle over buildings and block chimneys or vents are a danger.

For the complete article see the 04-30-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-30-2013 paper.

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