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Cal Fire Urges Wildfire Awareness

The amount of wildfires in California since Jan. 1 has more than doubled compared to this time last year, according to the director of Cal Fire Ken Pimlott. Drought conditions have dried vegetation, providing more fuel for fires. Firefighters are urging homeowners to do their part to keep themselves and their property safe.
Firefighters say there's an increased risk for wildfires throughout the state this season.   

Drought conditions have kept vegetation dry and provided fuel for fires.

This week, firefighters are urging wildfire awareness, asking homeowners to do their part.

In the Fresno County foothills, the landscape, while scenic and beautiful, is ripe for wildfires.

Foothills resident Linda Barron says she and her husband, a retired firefighter, take preventive measures to protect their home and those around them.

"My husband mows all the way around, and of course, our neighbors are great because you can't mow the neighbor's property, but they've mowed here, and they keep this well mowed. Everybody knows how important it is," Barron says.

While she and neighbors are prepared for the danger, not everyone is.

Director of Cal Fire Ken Pimlott says 95 percent of fires in California are started by people--meaning most of the fires in the state could be prevented.

On mother nature's end, drought conditions have kept vegetation dry, increasing the potential for wildfires.

"We're well ahead of last year in the number of wildfires that have occurred since January 1," Pimlott says.

The number has more than doubled compared to the same timeframe for average years.

There's been 1245 wildfires in the state since the start of the year, Pimlott says.

Firefighters urge homeowners to do their part--keep your property free of dry brush and other fuels, so that firefighters have a fighting chance to save your property.

"It makes it extremely difficult, puts firefighters in an unnecessary risk if there is not the clearance [of dry brush] there when we arrive," says Mark Johnson, division chief for Fresno-Kings Cal Fire.

Barron adds, "I think you really have to take it seriously that if you love your home and where you live, do what you need to do."

The local Cal Fire has increased its staff levels about two months ahead of schedule for the wildfire season because of the increased risk for wildfires this season, Pimlott says.

For information and requirements on keeping defensive space and preparing for wildfires, visit www.readyforwildfire.org and www.fire.ca.gov/.

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