FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Wildfires are down by nearly 23% so far this year in Fresno County according to Cal Fire.
However, their battalion chief Sunday continued to preach caution.
“Still dry. We are still getting some warm afternoons. All indicators of fire risk. So, we are still fully staffed. We’re still ready to go. We still have our aircraft on contract and available,” said Seth Brown, Cal Fire Battalion Chief.
While Brown says fires are down in Fresno County year-to-date, with roughly 1,000 this year compared to around 1,300 last year, he said the threat still remains, thanks to dwindling “fuel moisture” he says leads to more fires starting and spreading fast.
“We had several weeks of over 100-degree weather and the humidities were very low, as you know. So, we anticipate we will get some more fire activity this fire season locally here,” Brown continued.
On Friday, the US Forest Service lifted burn restrictions throughout the Sierra National Forest.
Campfires will now be allowed with a valid campfire permit.
The forest service says shorter days, cooler temperatures, and above-average fuel moisture in the Sierra have lowered fire risk.
However, Brown says whether you are in the mountains or down on the valley floor, you should take every precaution.
“I know it seems like the weather’s cooling off outside and we’re getting into fall officially, and that kind of brings people’s guard down a little bit. We always like to remind people, please keep your guard up, please stay vigilant. We are still right in the middle of fire season,” said Brown.
Brown says anything you can do to avoid a spark, whether that is securing trailer chains or avoiding the use of power equipment like a lawn mower, can go a long way.
He also says creating a defensible space around homes in high-risk areas is key.
“Not only does the defensible space give your property a better chance of surviving a wildfire, it makes it a safer environment for the firefighters coming to try to put out the fire,” Brown explained.
Cal Fire will continue to monitor fire conditions, and plans on being fully staffed through at least the end of October.