Cal Fire: More than 850 wildfires so far a huge jump over last year

May 2nd, 2013 | by Kate McGinty | Comments
Summit Fire in Banning

Crews navigate steep terrain to battle the blaze in Banning on May 2, 2013. (Photo by Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun)

More than 850 wildfires have broken out across California so far this year — a 60 percent increase over normal.

That’s up dramatically even from last week, when CAL Fire warned that it was seeing 30 percent more fires than normal and that the  unusually dry climate could lead to increased fire activity.

The tallies given to The Desert Sun on Thursday don’t include fires from the last two days, including the 3,000-acre blaze in Banning and the 6,500-acre wildfire in Ventura County.

“To see the fire activity and the fire intensity we’re seeing in May is really unbelievable because these are these are June-like conditions we’re seeing,” spokesman Dan Berlant said.

“Unfortunately it means the potential for large and damaging wildfire is much higher than normal.”

Expecting the increased fire activity, Cal Fire called up its first round of seasonal firefighters on April 15, about two weeks earlier than normal.

It also began staffing its air bases in Southern California on April 17, at least two weeks earlier than normal.

“I can tell you we have not seen dry conditions like easily in decades. That’s based even on lalst year, when we ad a very dry winter and a very busy fire season,” Berlant said.

That doesn’t necessarily mean there will have to be more fires, though. Most of the wildfires are caused by humans and completely preventable, Berlant said.

“We’re prepared early – but we really need residents and vacationers to be extra careful outdoors because the potential for large and damaging wildfires is much higher this year,” he said. “I cannot stress enough. We need the public’s help in being careful outside.”



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