YREKA, Calif. — Despite a wet winter, quickly warming temperatures and winds are creating a tinderbox out of grasses and brush in northern California, according to a statement from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).
Because of that, the agency is suspending all burn permits in Siskiyou County, effective June 6. All outdoor residential burning of landscape debris (such as branches and leaves) is effectively banned until further notice.
“This year is turning out to be just as volatile as last year. The public cannot let their guard down and must continue to be involved in preparation efforts for the upcoming wildfires,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director. “Again, this year the abundant dead grass will only serve as a fuse to the heavier vegetation still suffering the lasting effects of over five years of drought.”
The first week of June is an unusually early start for the current high temperatures and fire activity, according to Siskiyou Unit Chief Phillip Anzo. Because residents can't change the weather, they need to do their part to prevent human-caused fires.
According to CAL FIRE, firefighters in California have already seen 1,677 wildfires in the state since January 1 of this year.
The agency urges residents to take precautions against wildfires by creating a 'defensible space' around every home and building on their property, and be prepared for potential evacution.
CAL FIRE says that a defensible space looks like this:
• Clear all dead and or dying vegetation 100 feet from around all structures.
• Landscape with fire resistant plants and non-flammable ground cover.
• Find alternative ways to dispose of landscape debris like chipping or hauling it to a biomass energy or green waste facility
CAL FIRE says that they may issue restricted temporary burning permits if there is an essential reason due to public health and safety. Agriculture, land management, fire training, and other industrial-type burning may proceed if a CAL FIRE official inspects the burn site and issues a special permit.
The suspension of burn permits for residential landscape debris does not apply to campfires within organized campgrounds or on private property. Campfires may be permitted if the campfire is maintained in such a manner as to prevent its spread to the wildland. A campfire permit can be obtained at local fire stations or online at PreventWildfireCA.org.