The drought is over. So why is California’s wildfire risk growing?
The abundance of rain and snow could produce more wildfires and drownings, officials say.
Fires already have burned nearly 10 times as much territory statewide as they did during the same period of 2016.
“Just because the drought is over doesn’t mean the fire danger’s gone,” said Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean.
So far this year, Cal Fire says 431 fires have burned 7,245 acres, compared to 553 fires last year at this point that had burned 831 acres.
By this time last year, Cal Fire already had added 400 seasonal firefighters to remove dense brush, perform prescribed burns and conduct other preventive efforts.
The latest forecast from the National Interagency Fire Center predicts a slower start to fire season in Northern California, but “a robust fire season in July and August.” Firefighters in Sacramento are particularly concerned about the wide areas of new grass growing along the American River Parkway, which where arson and accidental fires regularly occur every year.
“The obstacles change because of the high water, and I would anticipate that there will be more dangers in the water this year.” DART team members plan to patrol the river every weekend this year starting on Memorial Day weekend to warn boaters, swimmers and others of the dangerous conditions and to urge everyone to use life jackets that are readily available for free at many area beaches and firehouses.
Use the Sacramento Drowning Accident Rescue Team’s tips to save yourself from drowning.
Video by Sharon Okada and Sam Stanton The Sacramento Bee This year may be particularly difficult, however, because the high, fast and cold water releases are expected to last much longer than in past years as flood-control officials deal with snowmelt from the mountains.
With the water running so fast, Sacramento County parks officials are warning people of the danger.