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Dry Winter Means Increased Fire Danger

AUBURN-

So far this year, Cal Fire has fielded 150 more fires than it had by this time in 2012, a possible sign of trouble ahead.

The last two months of 2012 were very wet, leaving the state’s snowpack at 134% of normal.

But by the end of March, that trend had reversed itself, resulting in the state’s driest start to a year on record, and touching off problems like a huge brush fire Ventura County.

“This week we hired 150 seasonal fire fighters to meet our fire danger levels in Southern California,” said Daniel Berlant, spokesperson for Cal Fire.

He spots a nearby home with a neatly-mowed yard and points out the front view is great,  but he says a quick glance to the side shows off a threat his agency wants families to attack statewide.

“In the back of the home they’ve got the weeds and the brush right up to the home.  They need to create 100 feet of defensible space,” he said.

And he doesn’t want those green patches of grass along any road to fool anyone into thinking a fire threat is not a concern.

“The grasses right now are relatively green. It’s already starting to dry out in many places for grasses like this to dry-out even faster. You have wind and then some warm days like we’re going into this weekend, it just dries out even more,” Berlant said.

Extra engines have been designated for the Cal Fire force in Northern California, based on how the high winds have been drying out the landscape.

Seasonal hires should start in the next few weeks.