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Fewer wildfires reported across California so far in 2019

Firefighters warn residents not to let guard down
Posted at 6:39 PM, Aug 08, 2019

Wildfire season should be in full swing in California, but the number of acres burned so far this year is hundreds of thousands less than in 2018.

Calmer winds and the amount of rain California received this year are playing a big part in that.

This allows firefighters to put out flames faster, keeping the damage to a minimum. But to put it simply, there has also been some good fortune.

According to CAL FIRE, 2017 and 2018 were the worst fire seasons California has ever seen.

More than 3,660 wildfires burned more than half a million acres between January and August of 2018 but this year, there have been fewer than 3,000 fires burning just 22,900 acres.

"In the past few years, we have had some extreme weather conditions, extreme winds, high heat, low humidity and this year, even though we might have the same temperatures and humidity, the winds have actually been very calm throughout the year this season,” said Adan Orozco, CAL FIRE Public Information Officer.

Orozco says without those strong winds, aircraft can be used, which helps keep fires from spreading.

While the lack of wind has been a major help, this year's rainfall has also made a difference.

"We got out of a drought, that had to help. The fact that we didn't see much in the long sustained intense heat, that's definitely helped too, but let's face it, we've also been lucky,” said Dave Hovde, KSBY Chief Meteorologist.

While the rain can't prevent wildfires from happening, it can give firefighters more time.

"If the grasses are wet, we just have to remember that might slow the fire just a little bit, but they are also intermingled with the grass from the year before, so they will still burn if the conditions are right,” Orozco said.

Hovde says San Luis Obispo County has been lucky up to this point but historically, this is the time when big fires start here on the Central Coast.

Orozco also says it is important to stay fire ready because those extreme conditions can happen at any time of the year and a major fire could still take place as late as December.