High winds could mean high fire risk for the weekend – Chico Enterprise-Record
CHICO – A severe lack of winter rain has resulted in an unusually dry spring, raising concerns about fire risk and the upcoming fire season.
The Sacramento office of the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning Friday for the weekend due to high winds and dry fuels in the Sacramento Valley. The service forecasts gusts in Chico could reach 45 to 50 miles per hour on Saturday and Sunday.
Cal Fire-Butte County Captain Jacob Gilliam said this was the first red flag warning issued by the Sacramento office. Gilliam said local stations are aware of the threat, adding that the biggest threat would likely be the Western Sacramento Valley.
“Obviously it’s not like the wind stops at (Interstate 5), so all of our stations, especially the ones down in the valley, are definitely aware of what’s going on.” , said Gilliam.
Fire fuels across California, thanks to the drought and lack of rainfall, are drier this year than in previous years, leading to the call for a red flag warning, Gilliam said.
The National Weather Service warned of possible power outages caused by fallen branches and weakened trees, as well as loose objects that could blow away.
A no-burn order is in place for the weekend, which means residential and farm burnings are not permitted until Sunday evening.
In addition to the prohibited weekend burns, beginning April 15, residential burning permits will be required, according to a press release issued Friday by Cal Fire.
Burning permits within the county jurisdiction can be obtained free of charge at burnpermit.fire.ca.gov.
While this is the case for Butte County, the rules will be different in Chico, Paradise and Oroville. The rules for these cities are as follows:
- chico: Burning is prohibited all year round.
- Oroville: Permits are required year-round with times and locations varying by jurisdiction.
- Heaven: Burning permits are required and can be purchased online at www.townofparadise.com. Paradise residents can also purchase permits at 767 Birch St. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fire season has yet to be announced by Cal Fire, although the various California jurisdictions are beefing up their staff. Gilliam said the first group of seasonal firefighters will be brought in from Monday.
“We do it every year,” Gilliam said. “We will have three different groups of hires, which will lead us to a peak in staffing. Our staffing decisions and the declaration of fire season do not necessarily go hand in hand.
In its April 1 survey, the California Department of Water Resources again found a decline in the Sierra Nevada snowpack based on data taken from the Philips station.
“The conditions we are experiencing today reflect the severity of our drought. DWR has forecast the reality of a third dry year since the year of water began on October 1,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “While DWR has made significant investments in forecasting technology and other tools to ensure we get the most out of the snowmelt we receive, water conservation will remain our best tool in the face of this ongoing drought and the statewide impacts of global warming.All Californians need to focus on water conservation now.
Storms in late December offered a positive outlook at the start of the year, but persistently dry weather erased that progress.
Other high elevations in Northern California are also seeing less snow than normal. For example, PG&E and Caltrans webcams looking at Donner Pass show light and patchy snowfall.
At 2 p.m. Friday, Lake Oroville was 751.26 feet above sea level.