Calif. Drought Means More Firefighters for Cal Fire

More seasonal firefighters will be hired to help out in the dry regions.


Feb. 21--SACRAMENTO -- Despite recent rain, California has not received enough rainfall to make up for this winter's dry weather pattern and the third dry year in a row. As a result, continued drought conditions and wildfires have required the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to hire several dozen seasonal firefighters earlier than normal across the Central Valley and Central Sierra.

"Though the rain is great in the short term, even if it rained straight for several months, we wouldn't catch up to the amount of rainfall we need," said Chief Dale Hutchinson, Cal Fire Southern Region Chief.

The additional seasonal hiring includes 15 firefighters in the Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit, 14 in the agency's Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit, and 12 in the Fresno-Kings Unit. The hires come one week after nearly two dozen seasonal firefighters were hired in Tulare County.

Many parts of California marked 2013 as the driest on record. These extremely dry conditions follow two previous dry years statewide. This year, Cal Fire crews have responded to over 500 wildfires that have charred over 1,130 acres. In a normal year the department would have responded to fewer than 130 small wildfires. The new hires help Cal Fire augment its allocation of equipment that the department's permanent firefighters have been doing for the past several months throughout the Central Valley and Sierra.

The governor's drought State of Emergency directed Cal Fire to "hire additional seasonal firefighters to suppress wildfires and take other needed actions to protect public safety during this time of elevated fire risk."

For more, visit: www.ReadyForWildfire.org.

Copyright 2014 - Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.)