Wet winter mitigates drought: Hearty grasses could bring fires to stressed forests

Southern Arizona has an above-normal fire potential this month and next.
In July and August, fire professionals will pay close attention to Northern California and Nevada.
The heavy precipitation this winter has helped most areas recover from severe drought conditions, However, Ed Delgado, the Fire Center’s program manager for predictive services, said this is a double-edge sword for Southern California.
This is especially noticeable in the lower elevations of Southern California.
But the drought has left the timber areas extremely damaged, he added.
Trees are still suffering from lack of moisture and many have died.
“The [lower] fine fuels can carry fire into the timber,” Delgado said.
“In Southern California, we’ve had five to six years of very extreme dry conditions.
A lot of mortality has occurred in the timber areas.” The grass crop has the potential to carry the fire into the stressed forests.
The Opera Fire near the city of Riverside was 1,350 acres and was 75 percent contained as of Monday morning.

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