Cal Fire Increases Staffing in Northern California Because of Weekend’s Forecast

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SMARTSVILLE --

Dry lightning and gusty winds forecasted in the Sierra and possibly into the valley prompted Cal Fire to increase staffing at all of its Northern California stations.

"With these drought conditions almost every single day is a heightened fire danger day but with the forecasted dry lightning that increases our danger is even higher because now not only do we have the dry conditions, but now we have more sparks," Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

"Just one spark can get everything started. All the wheels turning, all the boots on the ground...we just reviewed our lightning plan for the unit today," Cal Fire engineer Thomas Smith said.

Smith is stationed at Cal Fire's Smartsville unit off Highway 20, where crews trained to battle wildfires, by battling daily grass fires. He said that lightning plan breaks up Cal Fire crews into different geographical locations, so if several lightning sparked fires occur, everyone knows exactly where to go.

"We're looking at the smoke column, sizing it up, getting an idea of where it is," Smith said.

FOX40 rode along with Smith as he drove past the location of a grass fire that sparked Thursday night.

Smith said those  dry, flashy fuels are historically known to injure firefighters.

"They are very susceptible to a change in wind and respond very quickly to slope," Smith said.

"We want to be prepared," Berlant said.

Cal Fire is asking for the public's help over the next week and throughout the summer to prevent wildfires.

"It's really important that all residents and visitors remember that one less spark this weekend means one less wildfire for us," Berlant said.