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More Wildfires Predicted for Southern California

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Dry conditions and a warmer summer may fuel a dangerous wildfire season for California. KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce tells us that a federal agency is worried about fire conditions across a hu

More Wildfires Predicted for Southern California

Dry conditions and a warmer summer may fuel a dangerous wildfire season for California. KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce tells us that a federal agency is worried about fire conditions across a huge area of the country.

The fire season has already ignited in Georgia. A wildfire there has burned more than 125 square miles of forest and swampland in the southeast part of that state. The Georgia fire started two weeks before the National Interagency Fire Center issued its national wildfire report. The agency says the West and Southeast are ripe for wildfires. Tom Wordell is a wildland fire analyst at the center.

Wordell: Well, I think the stage is set for Southern California to have kind of a longer than normal fire season.

Wordell is worried about a forecast calling for a hotter than normal summer in the west.

Wordell: I guess our concern is that we're going to have fires burning in a number of geographic areas simultaneously and that just creates more issues for us."

Wordell says our region is at high risk because below normal rainfall has dried out vegetation. He says the winter freeze has added more fuel for fires. The report expects low snowpack in the Sierra to melt quickly which means a greater risk for wildfires at higher elevations too. The center's Rich Ochoa says wildfire crews are training to be ready for a busy season. Ochoa says homeowners should also be getting ready.

Ochoa: By clearing off debris, making sure that leaves and twigs and pine needles are off the roofs. And just start thinking about it. Really we're not into major fire activity yet, so now is the time to do that spring cleaning around your homes.

And it's not just California and western states facing increased fire danger. The center says wildfire potential is high in all of Florida, portions of four southeastern states and much of Alaska. Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

(File Photo: Full Focus )