CAL FIRE warns current conditions are what we would see in June, fire season timeline moving up

CAL FIRE crews are starting nearly a month and a half earlier than what's usually budgeted for.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The sizzling spring heat we're feeling in the Bay Area is prompting the state to hire more firefighters as soon as possible. It's all due to the increased risk of fire danger.

There was a CAL FIRE bulldozer training class happening Thursday under the hot sun in Healdsburg.

Crews may be called on to cut fire lines whenever and wherever the next big fire breaks out.

"To make sure we're prepared to operate heavy equipment and be as proactive as possible and ready as we can," said Tim Holliday from CAL FIRE.

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This week's spring heat wave is not doing firefighters any favors, it's already moved the timeline up on fire season.

"We're seeing conditions now in early April that we would see in mid to late June and as this week continues with the weather we're having, that could bump that average out even farther," said CAL FIRE Chief Ben Nichols.

Chief Nichols says the hot weather is why CAL FIRE is hiring more seasonal firefighters than it has in years, 120 alone for its Sonoma, Napa and Lake County unit. The crews are starting nearly a month and a half earlier than what's usually budgeted for.

"At this point, we're forecast to hire peak staffing by the end of May, extremely early compared to years past," said Nichols.

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Fire season is no longer a summer event, it has become year-round. The past five years have brought epic wildfires across the state with hundreds of homes lost. In 2020, four million acres were burned in California.

"Unfortunately, with conditions we're seeing right now it's going to be a long season," Nichols added.

The new seasonal firefighters report for duty on April 11.

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