With summer swiftly approaching CAL FIRE started their statewide Wildfire Awareness Week in the Northstate.
“This year has the potential to be a very significant and damaging fire season,” stated CAL FIRE Chief Ken Pimlott during Monday’s media briefing at the Air Attack Base at Redding’s airport.
CAL FIRE crews say they’ve got the tools they need to play offense this fire season, but they need homeowners to be diligent and be ready on defense.
"95 percent of all fires are caused by people. That means that 95 percent of fires can be prevented. It's up to the public, it’s up to all of you as residents of California to take that responsibly so we can mitigate the number of fires that are occurring here,” explained Pimlott.
CAL FIRE urged residents to follow the ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ wildfire preparedness plan.
Creating a defensible space of 100-feet of cleared brush around your house is the first step in the ‘Ready’ part of the plan. Being sure your family is ‘Set’ by having an emergency supply kit packed, plus an evacuation plan and meeting place already established will enable fast communication if a fire situation was to get chaotic in your neighborhood. The ‘Go!’ portion of the plan reminds everyone to evacuate your home when notified right away so crews can focus on saving homes and surrounding neighborhoods.
Fire crews across the state have already seen double the amount of wildfires compared to year’s past, with nearly 2,700 acres already charred.
"The Redding area is about 54 percent of normal rainfall, from what we would normally have. This is following another year of drought. Last year we had less rain than normal, and again this year," described Chief Mike Hebrard for the CAL FIRE Shasta-Trinity unit.
Adding to the dangerously dry soil conditions, this past winter’s lack of snowpack in the mountains could make things much worse for fighting fires in higher elevations.
"We have significant concerns this year in the area about the 3,500 to 6,000 foot elevation level with the brush. It did not get covered with snow ... and that could lead to some significant fire behavior this summer,” Hebrard said.
With that threat of flames, burning requirements have been altered in Shasta County. Bellow 1,000 feet no burning will be allowed. Burn permits are now required above 1,000 feet.
The CAL FIRE Shasta-Trinity unit has 19 fire engines, two bulldozers, 12 hand crews, two tankers and one air attack plane ready to fight flames. The Shasta County Fire Department also has 18 volunteer fire companies prepared to rush to fire lines when called upon.