Abnormally warm and dry conditions through the fall and early winter months are creating fire dangers that are higher than normal for this time of year in northeast California. Officials at the Susanville Interagency Fire Center said residents and visitors should use extreme caution when undertaking any burning projects.
“We have responded to several fires caused by burning projects that got out of control,” said Jim Hedges, a manager at SIFC. “With tall, dry grass remaining from last summer, little moisture and no snow cover, there is potential for these fires to spread and threaten life and property.” Hedges said the recent Caughlin Ranch Fire that burned more than two dozen structures in southwest Reno is a good illustration of the unusual and dangerous winter fire potential across the region.
Officials said the lack of rain and snow has resulted in dead fuels, such as brush and trees, to be much drier than normal for January. Additionally, the lack of snow is leaving these fuels exposed to the drying effects of sun and wind, and fire dangers continue to build.
CAL FIRE has reported that statewide, snowpack water content averages 19 percent of normal. River basin monitoring across northern California shows that precipitation has ranged from about 42 percent of average in the northern Great Basin region to 29 percent of average in the Carson River Basin.
While burning permits are not yet required for outdoor burning projects in northeast California, fire officials said projects should be conducted only on days that are calm and certified by local air quality boards as permissible burn days. Fires should always be supervised by an adult with access to firefighting tools including water and a shovel.
City governments, including Susanville, have their own burning permit requirements. Residents must check on local regulations before undertaking burning projects.