Last year was an exceptionally good one when it came to forest fires in Northern California. Thanks to a wet winter and heavy snowpack in 2010-11, there simply weren’t too many.
But the chances of a repeat performance this summer are pretty slim. Thanks to less-than-normal snowpack and a mild spring that saw an early melt-off, the forests in Plumas County are already becoming tinder dry. The U.S. Forest Service signs along the roadways are already warning us that fire danger has become extreme.
According to the 2012 Northern California Fire Season Outlook compiled by CalFire, much of northern part of the state — particularly the northeast — is facing above-normal fire danger. Plumas County is included in the above-normal area, especially the eastern part of the county.
It is up to all of us to make sure we do our part to keep our forests safe from fire. Most of the fire prevention tips are ingrained in us. But a little reminder never hurts.
Homeowners need to make sure they have a safe zone around their houses. That means cleaning up flammable vegetation and debris at least 30 feet around all structures.
Prune away the lower limbs of evergreen trees. These trees — especially those with dry lower limbs — catch fire easily and burn quickly. Be sure to also remove any limbs that overhang the roof or chimney. Make sure to remove pine needles from gutters.
When camping, be sure to extinguish your campfire when you are done. And keep an eye on it until you are sure it is completely out. Just because it isn’t flaming doesn’t mean it isn’t burning. A gust of wind is all it takes to send a spark into the dry grass.
Be careful when cutting firewood to be sure sparks from the saw don’t ignite. And once the wood is cut, don’t stack it right next to your house.
Despite our best efforts, more wildfires are started by nature than by the human hand. But we should all be vigilant when we are in the forest. If you see smoke and you aren’t sure if it is a controlled burn, call 911.
Visitors from around the world come to our county to enjoy our lakes, rivers and green forests. It’s our natural resources that make our county a popular vacation destination. But many of those visitors come from the city. They aren’t as in tune with the forest as we are.
Fire season has arrived in Plumas County. So far, so good. Let’s try to keep it that way.