Statewide drought causes prime wildfire conditions

The lack of rain is being blamed for dry conditions across the Bay Area and it's keeping firefighters across the region on high alert.
January 18, 2014 5:44:21 PM PST
The state of California spent its first full day in a state of drought emergency Saturday. In Marin County, dry conditions led to a dangerous fire.

Marin County has been through droughts before. But Friday night there was a fire in the watershed near Alpine Lake above Fairfax that helped to illustrate just how dry it is.

"This weather pattern that we're in hasn't really allowed our seasonal rains to arrive," said Marin County Fire Department Battalion Chief Jeremey Pierce.

According to the Marin County Fire Department, the lack of rain, live fuel, and dry conditions can be blamed for a fire that burned along a stretch of Fairfax-Bolinas Road.

"The combination of all of them has allowed fires like this to happen in January which typically we don't have," Pierce said.

Flames destroyed about an acre of this thick, heavy brush before crews were able to get it under control. Dry brush from the drought feeds the fires and fighting the fires feeds the drought.

"We are facing perhaps the worst drought California has ever seen," Gov. Jerry Brown said in a Friday news conference.

The governor says drought is covering two-thirds of the state and he's urging people to cut down their water use by 20 percent.

"You look down at Alpine Damn and the water levels are pretty low," cyclist Rick Graves said.

He's right. Water levels that have been known to rise several feet high, in certain spots, look like a wading pool. We came across several people stopping to see the sight for themselves.

Until there's rain, Graves says he will do his part to conserve.

"We went down, adjusted our sprinklers for the landscaping, do what you can and pray for rain," he said.

There were no injuries or damage to property in Friday night's fire. Crews are keeping an eye on the area and still investigating what started the blaze.


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