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Abnormally dry winter could cause an early start to fire season for San Luis Obipo County, fire crews say

Cal Fire says the last time they had to deal with this kind of drought was in 2011
Posted at 10:48 PM, Feb 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-01 01:49:00-05

With the United States Drought Monitor showing more than half of California in the "abnormally" dry level, including most of San Luis Obispo County and all of Santa Barbara County, local first responders said they are doing everything they can to prepare for what could be an early start to fire season.

As part of their preventative measures, Cal Fire in San Luis Obispo is conducting fuel reduction projects around the county.

“Out in Webster road, Highway 229, we’ve treated over a thousand acres with mastication where we 'crush the brush' and in a few weeks we’re going to come back and try to do a prescribe fire and burn the vegetation down,” said Josh Taylor, Assistant Chief for Cal Fire in San Luis Obispo.

CAL FIRE SLO typically has two year round fire engines, but if conditions were to worsen, there will be 12 front line fire engines available.

David Miskus, a monitor author for the Climate Prediction Center, said the concern throughout the current drought is the possibility of this becoming a multi-year drought.

“You can’t win because if you get a really wet season, you get all this extra grass that come sup and dries out during the summer and then burns in October whereas now its so dry, you don’t get that extra grass growing but it can start the wildfire season normal,” said Miskus.

CAL FIRE SLO said the last time they had to deal with this kind of drought was in 2011.