Calif. fire season off to early start
BANNING, Calif. — California truly is the Golden State this summer — golden brown — and that has fire officials worried as they head into the peak of the wildfire season.
It's still weeks before the fire-fanning Santa Ana winds usually arrive and it's been a brutal fire season, with nearly twice as many acres burned statewide from a year ago, including 19,000 scorched this week in a blaze still raging in the mountains 90 miles east of Los Angeles. That fire, burning nearly 30 square miles, was about half-contained on Saturday.
So far this year, California fire officials have battled 4,300 wildfires, a stark increase from the yearly average of nearly 3,000 they faced from 2008 to 2012, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Until last week, those fires had burned more than 71,000 acres, about 111 square miles. The totals were up from 40,000, about 63 square miles, during the same period last year.
The annual average for charred land in the last five years was 113,000 acres, roughly 177 square miles, he said.
“We have seen a significant increase in our fire activity and much earlier than normal,” said Berlant, adding that fire season began in mid-April, about a month ahead of schedule after an especially dry winter.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who lives in Riverside County, said more than 165,000 acres (or 258 square miles) have burned in California this year, and climate change is setting conditions for more disastrous blazes, while budget cuts are limiting resources to fight them.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.