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State Officials Want People to be Prepared Despite Fewer Wildfires This Year

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SACRAMENTO -- While the Monday afternoon temperatures climbed above 100 degrees, a fire broke out in a Rio Linda field off Cherry Lane.

It burned through dry grass and some fallen trees. Firefighters were able to extinguish it quickly, eliminating the threat to nearby homes.

It is a story seen repeated this season by fire agencies up and down the state. Fires have broken out and were put out with minimal damage.

"So, we really have seen a decrease in fire activity," said Cal Fire Chief Mike Mohler.

Last year by this time, 622,000 acres had already burned statewide. So far this year, 27,000 acres have burned. That is about a 96% decrease.

Mohler said the weather has helped. An unusually wet winter and spring delayed peak fire season.

"What we consider our brushes, our trees, our heavy fuels, have stayed greener longer," he explained.

And this year, there has not been as many dry north wind events. Last year by this time, California had already seen 16 of those days.

"We've only seen really two and that hasn't even gone up to what we would consider a Red Flag Warning type of wind," Chief Mohler said.

With very few major fires burning, Mohler said Cal Fire has not had to move many resources around the state. So, stations have been fully staffed, able to respond and put out fires quickly with a lot of personnel and equipment.

Mohler emphasized now is not the time to let our guard down.

The wet winter has a flip side.

"We get those large grass crops that really are the wick to larger fires," Mohler said.

And the driest months are ahead of us.

"Even though the smoke is not in the air, it's not if it's when we're going to have a large fire and we still have several months. In fact, some of our largest fires have been in November," Mohler said.

Mohler said activities like camping or barbecuing, and even towing a trailer and dragging a chain, can spark a major wildfire -- as the region has experienced in years past.

"You know, this is really a call to action,” Mohler told FOX40. “The public needs to be our partner in preparation."

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