MONTEREY – California has already experienced an unusually early start to its fire year amid a prolonged drought and historically low rainfall and reservoir levels.
While wildfires are a natural part of the California landscape, the intensification of fire activity in California and the West begins earlier and ends each year later. Warmer spring and summer, reduced snow cover and early spring thaw create longer and more intense dry seasons, which increase the load of moisture on vegetation and make forests more susceptible to strong forest fires.
The growing fire hazard posed by dead grass and hotter and drier conditions in the region is forcing Cal Fire to suspend all permits to burn outdoor living spaces in the area of state responsibility of Monterey and San Benito counties.
The suspension, which took effect on April 30, prohibits the burning of landscape debris, such as branches and leaves, in residential areas.
“Fires in California continue to threaten our communities,” said Chief Joe Tyler, director of Cal Fire. “With the conditions in place for the early start of the 2022 fire season, it’s important that we now collectively take preventive measures to prepare, and we ask all Californians to contribute to forest fire preparedness.”
“In our area, as in most of California, the fire season started early,” added Rina DiTulia Jr., head of the California fire department of the San Benito Monterey division. “The Colorado fire is a great example of this early rise in fire activity. Suspension of all permits for burning residential areas in the open air in the area of state responsibility is a safe and reasonable action to prevent forest fires.
While the burning of outdoor debris by outdoor homeowners is no longer allowed, Cal Fire is asking residents to spend extra time to prepare your home for forest fires by creating a protected space and strengthening your home against forest fires.
Here are some tips to help you prepare your home and property:
- Clean all dead and / or dying vegetation within 100 feet of all structures;
- Landscape with fire-resistant plants and non-combustible ground cover; and
- Find alternative ways to dispose of landscape debris, such as shredding or transporting to a plant to produce energy from biomass or green waste.
The department may issue limited permits for temporary incineration if there is a substantial reason due to health and safety. Agriculture, land management, fire training and other industrial-type combustion may continue if a Cal Fire employee inspects the burning site and issues a special permit.
Suspension of permits for the burning of residential debris does not apply to campfires in organized campsites or on private property. Campfire breeding may be permitted if the campfire is maintained in such a way as to prevent it from spreading to the wild.
A valid fire permit is required, which can be obtained online at ReadyForWildfire.org. The website also provides tips on creating a protected space, planning evacuations and preparing for forest fires.