Sunday, August 23, 2009

California braces for hellish fire season

Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle: The eruption of fire last weekend in Santa Cruz County and 10 other spots around the state would not be so vexing to California fire bosses if the ominous foreshadowings of trouble weren't already piled so high.

There have been 5,384 wildfires this year, almost 1,200 more fires than last year. This year's unusually large number of lightning strikes have added another element of distress as the state struggles with a third year of drought.

"We are very concerned about the conditions in California right now," said Chief Del Walters, the director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "The number of ignitions is way up but our acreage is down." Fires have burned 144,295 acres so far this year, compared with this time in 2008 when 4,231 wildfires had burned 353,203 acres…

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