By Jason KUROSU
The outbreak of fires in San Diego County this month epitomized the constant threat of brush fires in the drier sections of Southern California. Thousands of acres and homes were destroyed in the wildfires, which caused an estimated $60 million worth of damage.
Meanwhile, Central California wildfires continue to burn through over 1,000 acres of land near Yosemite National Park, the most recent event in what officials have termed an early fire season due to severe drought conditions.
Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown announced that $600 million were being appropriated for combating wildfires and announced the first week of May to be “Wildfire Awareness Week.”
In a press release in which Brown declared the commencement of Wildfire Awareness Week, Brown stated, “The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has already responded to a 120% increase in wildfires this year caused by drought conditions. The men and women of CAL FIRE have answered the call for more than 1,200 wildfires since Jan. 1 and stand prepared to continue their aggressive response through what is expected to be a long and dangerous fire season.”
CAL FIRE has taken measures in preparation for the expected busy fire season by hiring additional firefighters and utilizing more fire engines and firefighting aircraft. CAL FIRE is also urging the public to practice water conservation, along with preventive measures for those living in especially dry areas, such as surrounding one’s home with fire-resistant materials and removing flammable plant life from close proximity to the home. CAL FIRE also recommends creating a family plan for evacuating households in case of fire and coordinating meeting places for family members after safely escaping danger.
CAL FIRE typically responds to around 500 wildfires in a year. This year has already exceeded 1,200 such fires by the end of April.