Heatwave impacts Woodward Park: Fire risk and few visitors

Local News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – One of Fresno’s most iconic parks is impacted by the heatwave. 

Cal Fire says a severe drought and record-breaking heatwave have increased the risk for fires in Woodward Park.  Just last weekend, a wildland fire burned 60 acres sending smoke across north Fresno. Battalion Chief Seth Brown says in these dangerous heat conditions, it’s important that people avoid spaces with large amounts of dry vegetation whenever possible. 

“The dangerous heatwave we’re getting really dries the grass out in and around Fresno County and that always increases the likelihood that any fire that starts will get bigger,” Brown says.

That is exactly what happened over the Fourth of July weekend in Woodward Park and back in May. Dead grass created fast-moving fires that burned up to Friant Rd. Brown says some prevention efforts are possible in public parks.  

“Historically prescribed burning is not the best option just because of the amount of vegetation and the amount of homes in the area,” Brown said. “Municipalities can go out and mow the grass down shorter, that kind of reduces the wildfire risk.”

The heatwave is also keeping Fresnans out of Woodward, which is normally bustling on weekends. Daniel and his stepson Elio were one of the few to brave the heat at the park Saturday morning.

“The heat kind of bugs me. It’s hot but I like being out here,” Elio said.

Daniel and Elio say they spent the morning fishing and have a cooler full of water to stay hydrated. They’re enjoying having the park to themselves. 

“I kind of figured it was going to be dead because earlier this morning I knew it was going to be pretty hot,” Daniel said. So it doesn’t surprise me. 

If you want to cool off, Fresno has several cooling centers and splash pads open to the public.

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