California Professional Firefighters

Fire Activity Up in Wildlands -- Bad Fire Season Looms

The official start of "fire season" in California usually comes sometime in May. But Mother Nature isn't watching the calendar.

Fueled by drought conditions in both Northern and Southern California, CAL FIRE reports the state has already experienced nearly 700 wildland fires so far in 2013 -- a 45% increase over this time last year.

Much of the early activity has centered in Southern California, which is experiencing near-record drought conditions along with several other states in the Southwest. CAL FIRE has accelerated its customary fire season staffing hikes in San Bernardino and San Diego Counties and just last week added air tanker capabilities.

While So Cal is the early focus, snowpack surveys in the Northern Sierras reveal water content levels that are only 52% of normal. In some areas of Northern California, precipitation is running only about 20 to 30 percent of normal.

That means the prospects are ripe for an equally bad Northern California fire season. 

Local fire agencies are already gearing up for the new danger. Fresno firefighters have been actively drilling along tinder-dry hillsides, preparing for the worst. Similar drills are under way throughout several small Northern California communities dotting the Sierra.

READ: "Firefighters start training for early California fire season" -- Sacramento Bee

WATCH: So Cal firefighters prep for early fire season --

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