California is so hot and dry that not even soaking rain can ease fall fire peril
When a wildfire has burned out of control for a number of days, it sometimes takes almost another week for it to die down a little. That’s how long it takes new firefighting vehicles to reach the scene.
There is also no “go” button that triggers a new round of heavy, bunker-busting air blasts. And these last-ditch efforts are not just for the few acres of burned trees out there.
The best way to stop a fire from advancing is to kill it. And this is what most emergency managers, fire trucks and crews are doing in California’s brush and chaparral.
The latest data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection show an average of five to six fires burning every day in the state, despite a statewide fire ban that went into effect on Sept. 1.
That translates to around 35,000 acres burned in 2017, the year the state enacted a statewide fire ban. The average statewide burned acreage was 6,000 in 2016.
The last time the state set a statewide fire ban of this size was in 2003, when the annual statewide burned acreage was 21,000, according to CalFire.
The statewide fire ban in 2017 started a new fire season and increased the fire hazard in California.
While fire crews battle fires, their role isn’t just to contain them and watch them burn.
The role that fire crews play is to knock down and kill the flame before it can spread.
That’s an entirely new role in California’s firefighting arsenal.
That’s a role that’s being embraced by both firefighters and their bosses.
A new trend developing is putting the fire crews at the forefront of wildfire control efforts, an effort to ensure a speedy resolution and eliminate the public relations nightmare — and potential liability — that could have been caused by the fire trucks standing in the road.
“The fire trucks are moving ahead and making sure the fire doesn’t spread beyond the perimeter,” said Rick Bergsmark, a professor of fire science at the University of California, Merced.
The fire trucks are not only saving lives and property, he said, but they’re also trying to protect public lands from future fires.
“It also helps keep the public safe,” Bergsmark said. “No one wants to see a fire start