Cal Fire investigators say a vehicle caused this wildfire near Millerton Lake Wednesday. 20 acres burned before it was contained. No one was hurt and no structures were damaged, but it could have easily taken a turn for the worst.
About 75 firefighters were needed to put out the fire. At one point, flames came very close to some homes which did not have 100 feet of weed clearance as required by law.
“We need that 100 foot clearance to assist the fire crews in being able to just worry about the grass fire. That way in the event of a fire like this the fire will hit that defensible space, really slow down and start to bump around the house naturally,” said Captain Ryan Michaels of Cal Fire of Fresno Co.
On Tuesday, Cal Fire crews battled windy conditions near Del Rey as tires and other debris burned. One acre was charred and an empty home destroyed. Calls like this have been a common occurrence this spring.
“We're about double where we were this time last year. Just for the month of April we doubled our fire calls to wild land and vegetation fire incidents,” said Capt. Michaels.
In the city of Fresno firefighters have also been taxed. Budget cuts from 2009 have finally caught up with the department, cutting staffing levels by nearly 20%. Crews were stretched thin on Tuesday.
“We had six fires going on within in a thirty minute period. If we would have had a large commercial fire come in the middle of that we simply didn't have the resources to cover that,” said Koby Johns of the Fresno Fire Dept.
That concerns Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who says scaling further back is not an option.
“We are at the point now where if we have to make cuts someone is going to get hurt and it's not the right direction for our city,” said Ashley Swearengin, Mayor of Fresno.
May 1st marked the compliance deadline to have brush cleared. If owners of large pieces of land have not completed their mowing, Cal fire will send them a warning notice which could lead to a fine.
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