Much of the West is preparing for what could be another catastrophic season of forest fires, but what does this mean for the Central Coast?
From the fires that are spreading rapidly in March, to the beneficent rains at the end of the season – the fire season may have been postponed for a while, but it is knocking on our door again.
“For the Central Coast, I was very excited to see a little rain that we unexpectedly dropped a couple of weeks ago,” said Christopher Dicus, professor of fire and fuel management at Wildland in Cal Poly.
This rain improved the forecast for the fire season.
According to the National Interdepartmental Fire Center, for the Central Coast and Southern California, the fire hazard is projected to be close to normal or slightly below normal.
Fire experts continue to urge caution as summer approaches.
“We should not be deceived, because if we have a normal fire season on the Central Coast, it means that we can have a catastrophic forest fire at any moment,” said Dicus. “It’s a normal phenomenon for the Central Coast.”
CAL FIRE is entering the fire season in San Luis Obispo County. The agency is now equipped with nine fire engines and four bulldozers. In early April, they also hired 54 seasonal firefighters.
“Less than 100,000 acres burned across the state was commonplace many years ago,” said Adan Arozka, public information officer at CAL FIRE SLO. “Now the fires are much more intense, they are bigger.”
“Local agencies are also preparing to direct resources to Northern California, which is preparing for what could become another devastating fire season.
“Many agencies acknowledge that conditions in Northern California will be dire until the end of the year until we rain,” Dicus said.
So what makes Northern California more prone to fires than other parts of the state?
“On the Central Coast, we are used to this normal period of drought in this Mediterranean ecosystem,” Dicus said. “Northern California usually gets more rainfall, they just don’t get it.”
CAL FIRE SLO states that it is ready to direct resources to other parts of the state; however, there are limits.
“There is always an effect from sending resources as well as getting resources to replenish,” Arozka said. “We have a drawdown level when we say we can’t send anything because we’re undressed.”
CAL FIRE has stopped smoking in the backyard until the end of the fire season in SLO district.
A four-month fire forecast has been published