H-CENTRAL COAST

Nov 5, 2013 9:10 PM by Victoria Johnson

Fire season isn't over yet

According to CAL FIRE, fire season isn't over yet. They say it all depends on weather.

"We are still in high fire conditions. You can feel it out here right now. It's dry, it's warm, and the winds have kicked up a little bit so we are in high fire conditions in this county," said Steve Reeder, Deputy Chief, San Luis Obispo CAL FIRE.

He says fire season is generally between May and the end of October. However, now that it's November, weather is shifting.

"What we do have in our advantage is we have lower temperatures and shorter days so that is to our advantage," said Reeder.

He says that moisture levels in brush are still at critical levels. So far this year, we've been lucky enough to avoid a major fire.

"We had quite a few starts this year, even in our county. We have been successful in getting on them quickly and keeping the fires small," said Reeder.

CAL FIRE is waiting on weather.

"We usually like to see two inches of rain before we feel comfortable shutting down fire season," said Reeder.

But until then, he says, "we still have dry fuels out there and we are at the ready."

Since the 1950s, Chief Reeder says there typically has been a big fire in San Luis Obispo County about every 10 years. However, it's been even longer than that.
He said the last major, damaging fire in this county was the fire off Highway 58 in 1996. It burned more than 106,000 acres and damaged 13 structures. That was the 13th largest fire ever in California.

David Sadecki is the Public Information Officer for Santa Barbara County Fire. He says moisture levels are at a critical level, at 62%. That means the brush is extremely dry and can easily act as fuel if a fire starts. Santa Barbara County had two major fires within the last five years. The Tea fire in November of 2008 burned about 1,900 hundred acres and damaged 200 homes. The Jesusita Fire in May of 2009 burned about 8,700 acres and damaged 80 homes.

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