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California Drought Could Mean Peak Fire Season Months Earlier Than Usual

 June 1, 2021 at 11:30 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Most of California is experiencing extreme drought right now. That means the possibility of bigger, more destructive wildfires earlier in the summer CAPP radio, Scott rod has this report from Butte county. Speaker 2: 00:15 Please. Lunchtime brings a crew of laborers to this taco stand in Oroville. They're taking a break from clearing trees into brush around nearby homes. One of them tells sissy Savoy about free and reduced cost programs to remove hazardous vegetation in fire prone areas. She leaves with a box of tacos and the company's contact info. Savoy is living in a tent on her best friend's property and plans to help him rebuild after his home burned. Last year, Speaker 3: 00:46 I barely got out. I know with not even a shirt on his back and his dog like had to drive through a, a wall of fire to get out. The Speaker 2: 00:54 Region has seen bigger and bigger fires. In recent years, the wildfire 6,000 acres, the campfire 150,000 acres and the north complex fire last year, over 300,000 acres. But Savoy, like many of her neighbors is committed to this place. I was Speaker 3: 01:13 Sitting up outside of my tent the other night, looking at the trees. A lot of people go there and think it's really ugly. You know, so scarred damaged. Maybe I relate to that on scars and damage. And I was fortunate enough to have a lot of people love me back to health. Speaker 2: 01:26 She says she is a little nervous about this year and for good reason, the last 18 months we're among the driest and hottest on record in California moisture levels in fire fuels like grass and brush are below average. And the meager snowpack has largely soaked into the ground instead of flowing into lakes and rivers look no further than lake Oroville to see the drought's impact Speaker 4: 01:51 On this side, they made some new boat ramps and kind of get a view of the lake. Eric Speaker 2: 01:57 Eastman visits here. Often he owns a houseboat and is giving me a tour of the lake in his pontoon. The marina had to remove about 70 houseboats this year because they could have run a ground as the water continues to drop Eastman's boat was spared, but he says it has an impact on the whole community. Speaker 4: 02:16 I'd be devastated that we wouldn't be able to have our home on the water. We would still come here and many of the owners potluck every night and get together. And so we have friends, boats that we could stay on, but it's not like staying on your boat. Speaker 2: 02:29 The shoreline steep, dry embankments loom over us lake Orville's water is less than half of what it usually is for this time of year. And it will only continue to drop. We ride past a hillside torched by last year's north complex fire, which sent a blizzard of embers onto the lake. You Speaker 4: 02:48 Couldn't even see one boat to the next, so thick smoke, and they finally let people come off and blow the Ash and everything off your boats, because there were huge leaves and pine everywhere that I just can't believe that boat's in catch on fire back Speaker 2: 03:03 On dry land. I meet up with Cal fire captain Robert Foxworthy. We hike along a wooded trail where much of the grass is already dried out and yellow prime for catching fire. So what is Cal fire doing to prepare we're Speaker 5: 03:17 Hiring over 1200 additional firefighters that are going to go mainly to hand crews until they're actually out there fighting fire and doing fire suppression. They're going to be doing fuel reduction projects. Governor Speaker 2: 03:32 Gavin Newsome announced over half a billion dollars in early budget spending to expand vegetation management projects and he's proposing over $5 billion to address the drought. Foxworthy offers this plea to the public. Now is the time to pack your go bags with essential belongings in documents and to make sure the space around your home is clear of dangerous fire fuels in Butte county. I'm Scott rod. Speaker 6: 04:04 [inaudible].

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Experts say the drier that usual California climate sets stage for a dangerous wildfire season that could spark major fires weeks or months earlier than usual.
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