|Noting there have been twice as many blazes in the first five months of this year as during the same period in 2011, state and local fire officials are warning property owners that the potential for fires will be higher than usual this summer and fall. |
"I know in some areas going back to the winter, November, December, January were some of the driest months in 100 years," said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "We`ve already seen a significant increase in fire activity statewide."
And the spring rains didn`t help much, he added. "Even though in March we saw a good amount of rain, it wasn`t enough to make up for the winter."
From January to the beginning of June there have been about 1,600 fires in California, Berlant said. That`s not only double the number that broke out last year during the same months but also considerably more than the five-year average for that period of about 1,300 fires, he said.
Locally, officials are advising residents to take precautions to prevent fires and protect their homes in the event of a wildfire.
Woodside Fire Protection District Chief Dan Ghiorso said grass, brush, leaves and other debris should be cleared around homes to create a "defensible space."
"Vegetation management is a big thing," Ghiorso said. "We don`t want light, flashy fuels. I believe we`re going to see more fires this year."
A Woodside home on Bear Gulch Road was destroyed by fire Saturday, Ghiorso said. Although the cause is still under investigation, the surrounding grass and trees also caught fire, adding to the difficulty of fighting the three-alarm blaze.
"It was extremely fast," Ghiorso said. "It was a total loss." The owners were on vacation and fortunately no one was hurt, he said.
Berlant echoed the need for residents to remove vegetation around their homes, suggesting a 100-foot buffer zone.
"It`s the homes that have good clearance and good defensible space that we see saved every year," he said.
(c)2012 the Palo Alto Daily News, Menlo Park, Calif.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
Story image: Mike Westfall, of the San Bernardino County Fire Department, looks on as his crew tries to keep fire from crossing a San Diego County road Friday, May 25, 2012, near Julian, Calif. AP Photo/Gregory Bull
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