California is so hot and dry that not even soaking rain can ease fall fire peril for the state’s forests, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal-For) report released Friday says.
The report noted that more than half of the 8,600 California cities and towns affected by wildfires have already experienced fire danger ratings of at least Level 4, and more than a third have already experienced Level 5, “the highest level of fire danger.”
The state’s forests, which are home to the state’s $100 billion timber industry, have suffered more than 60% of the reported fires that have burned in the state this year.
In the Northern California forests, an area where the most fires are already burning, Cal-For warned of “severe, persistent, and sustained fire danger” caused by dry and hot weather.
The report, released Nov. 1, warned that hot and dry weather is expected to continue for the remainder of the fall, and that the state will likely not get enough rain to reduce forest fires.
The report was requested by state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection leaders and by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who requested the report because he said many residents in areas with high wildfire risk have concerns about the timing and quality of the state’s drought response.
“When I asked for their best advice on how to help Californians, I heard two things,” DeSaulnier said. “A bunch of excuses. And two, I got a report that not only said the state is doing everything, but that the state did everything wrong.”
DeSaulnier, who also serves on the California State Water Resources Control Board, said the state’s water department has been “at every level” of California’s current drought response, blaming the lack of rain for the fires and drought.
He has requested a fact-finding study to take apart the state’s response for the drought, and said he hopes for a report detailing that “