Fuel surplus could lead to more dangerous wildfires

Due to all the rainfall we saw in California this winter, the fuels have doubled in California grasslands, increasing wildfire risk.

Posted: Jul 17, 2019 6:21 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2019 6:22 PM

CHICO, Calif. - Due to all the rainfall, we saw in California this winter, the fuels have doubled in California grasslands, increasing wildfire risk.

As we are still picking up the pieces from last year's wildfire season, another deadly and destructive season could be on our doorstep again this year.

Heavy rains from February and March have led to an above-average water year in California. This was great news for California's water supply and for the ski season. However, the extra rainfall has doubled the amount of burnable fuel in California's grasslands.

Brenda Rightmyer, managing director of Yankee Hill Fire Safe Council, said, "Its a really bad time to weed-eat because it's just going to grow right back because you'd see the green right underneath it. I've had to weed-eat sections of the hill at least five times over and that's a lot of work. Usually, you can do it one or two times and you hit it."

Grass this year is growing thicker and taller. More available fuel can lead to more intense wildfires that can spread quickly.

This is not only dangerous for California as a whole, but can have an emphasized effect on areas that have already burned according to Rightmyer.

Rightmyer said, "especially in the burn area from the Camp Fire, it's a lot higher risk because you have a lot of the burned vegetation. You have a lot of the dead trees now that are inter-mixing with the new growth and that adds for an even more volatile fire situation."

Rightmyer says clearing grass on your property is a great prevention step but also insists you be cautious about it. When clearing grass on your property, make sure to do it in the morning. Weed-eating and mowing your lawn in the mid-heat of the day can actually cause fires rather than preventing them.

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