by Jeremy Couso
Local firefighters have been called to Tehama County where they are assisting Cal-Fire with the Panther fire in the Mill Creek and Deer Creek drainages. The fire is burning in heavy timber and driven by dry gusty winds.
Fire crews and agencies responding from Lassen, Plumas and Modoc counties include strike teams from the Susanville City Fire Department, Susan River Fire Protection District, Milford Fire Protection District, Chester Fire Department and the Cal Pines Fire Protection District in Alturas.
Local personnel consist of 10 handcrews, 2 dozers, 1 engine and 1 helicopter.
2 engines and 1 water tender from the Lassen National Forest have also been pressed into action on the Panther fire.
This early increase in fire activity has Cal-Fire looking at the lack of rainfall as an indicator of a potentially higher fire threat this summer. Since the beginning of the year, Cal-Fire has responded to over 680 wildfires, which is more than 200 over the average for this time of year.
“Our firefighters have responded to an increased number of wildfires due to the very little rainfall we have received over the past few months,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, Cal-Fire director. “Last week in Southern California we increased our staffing and moved our airtankers to their bases, which was needed as we saw several large wildfires over the weekend.”
The lack of winter rains has resulted in dry conditions across the state leading to a number of unseasonably large wildfires that have already threatened people, homes and the state’s watershed.
“In many other areas of the state we are in the process of training our seasonal firefighters and monitoring weather conditions closely to determine our staffing levels,” said Chief Pimlott. “While we are busy transitioning into fire season, this is the time we want residents to begin preparing their homes for fire season by creating 100 feet of Defensible Space.”
Cal-Fire is asking Californians to prepare for wildfires by taking these actions:
- Maintain 100 feet of Defensible Space
- Remove all dead plants, grass, and weeds from within 30 feet of your home
- Trim trees 6 feet from the ground
- Remove all leaves, pine needles and debris from roofs
- Create an Evacuation Plan in case of a wildfire
For more information on preparing for wildfires visit: www.ReadyForWildfire.org.