CAL FIRE crews gearing up for wildfire season

Cal Fire's 21 Air and Helicopter attack crews are getting settled into their base in Grass Valley where they'll be stationed throughout fire season. (June 15, 2017)

California’s summer is about to get a lot hotter, weekend temperatures are predicted to get into the triple digits in  areas of the Northern half of the state

With that potential for fire and a plan set out months ago by state officials, air attack crews with Cal Fire are stationing up at the agencies 22 Air and Helicopter bases state-wide. The crews will be stationed at those bases from June 15 until October 15, or until the fire season ends.

At the Cal Fire Air Attack base in Grass Valley on Thursday -- Crews ran proficiency flights and practiced reloading fire retardant into aircraft.

“Increased temperatures coming in the weekend, conditions today we got a little bit of wind today, it’s hotter than we’ve had in the past week,” said Firefighter Jake Sjoulund with the Grass Valley Air Attack Team.

While the expected high heat will provide an apparent risk for wildfire over the weekend, Sjoulund said that California’s harsh Winter rains may lead to a more average fire season compared to conditions experienced over the last five years.

However, the late season rains experienced this year could also increase the risk of fire later into the Summer months, Sjoulund said. Those rains are allowing grass and brush to grow, when those dry out potentially around the month of August, that could provide heavier fuel to fires during that time.

“It definitely has a slowing effect on fire but it’s not going to have a large overall change until we have a consecutive years with rain,” said Sjoulund.

Air crews are but one component of defending against wildfires in California by dropping fire retardant chemicals and water to help contain fires. Ground crews are crucial to attacking and stopping fire from spreading.

Meanwhile, crews in dry Southern California have been battling blazes through the Winter months. 

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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