Cal Fire gearing up for busy fire season

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SANTA CLARA COUNTY (KRON) — Fire season is all about the grass, especially early on like this. Cal Fire told KRON4 the grass crop in the bay area this year is 1.5 to 5 times as heavy as it is in a typical year and it’s ready to burn.

You are looking at the fuel for what is expected to be another very busy fire season in California.

A heavy grass crop, as much as five times heavier than normal, has developed across the state and should elevate fire potential as it dries through the summer, says Cal Fire Division Chief Jim Crawford.

“Those grasses really are the initiators of the large wildfires that we have because they can easily get to areas where there are homes because they move very fast and can create a large fire very quickly,” he said.

Crawford said late spring rain between periods of sunshine made for an unusually long growing season for annual grasses and weeds.

Caltrans and other public works crews have been busy mowing along Highway 101 in San Jose and across the Bay Area. Waist-high and and extra thick, the heavy grass makes for a hotter, more dangerous fire says Crawford.

“It’s a game-changer because the amount of effort it takes to extinguish a fire in heavy grass is much greater,” Crawford said. “It’s harder to penetrate that dense material as oppose to something that’s thin and wispy at 1-2 tons per acres so it will take more resources.”

Based on a formula that measures lingering drought conditions, precipitation and fuel conditions, a map from the National Interagency Fire Center has areas in red that can expect to see significant wildfires this summer and beyond.

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