Cal Fire says it is staffing up its fire stations three months early because of the dangerous fire conditions in California this winter.
Seasonal fire fighters were laid off just a couple of months ago but 125 seasonal fire fighters will be hired back in the next couple of weeks.
“Already in the past two weeks, we’ve responded to over 150 wild fires. In a normal year that number would be closer to 25,” Cal Fire Spokesman Daniel Berlant said Thursday.
The hills surrounding the Cal Fire station in Auburn are brown instead of green, when there is normal winter precipitation. A purposely set demonstration fire showed how volatile the dry grass is. Using a torch, it took just seconds for flames to race uphill faster than a man could run. A fire break and a fire fighter manning a hose kept the fire from getting away.
A few miles away, residents of a north Auburn neighborhood remember how the 49 Fire in 2009 raced through dry grass and brush and destroyed 63 homes and six businesses. The open areas surrounding the neighborhood look as dry as it did just before that fire.
“Very odd and it is a very big concern as we were in the middle of that fire in ’09,” homeowner Gary Beldner told FOX40.
Beldner still remembers how quickly flames raced through dry brush and grass and devastated his neighborhood.
It is mowed more closely now and there is a firebreak protecting homes. Cal Fire says using cutting equipment to maintain defensible space can spark a fire during this dry winter.
They say cutting grass and brush is best done in the morning when there is still dew or frost on the ground. But these days, the grass dries quickly as the temperatures climb and cutting in the afternoon hours is not reccomended.