2012 Wildfire Season Officially Kicks Off

Monday Was Official Declaration of Fire Season

Wild fire season officially kicked off Monday morning with a declaration from Kern County Fire Department.

Officials said every fire season is difficult to predict, but this year there are two factors that could make it even more challenging. One of those is the dry winter across the western United States. The other is how early massive wildfires have broken out this year.

From Arizona to Northern California, firefighters are keeping busy, which is a trend officials said could continue right here in Kern County.

"Our 90-day fire potential is extremely high right now," said Chief Brian Marshall of the Kern County Fire Department. "The models are predicting a very substantial fire season."

The problem isn't so much the fires themselves, but the fact the season started even before it officially began.

The Gladiator and Sunflower fires burning in Arizona have pulled resources from across the U.S including crews from county fire. If that continues to happen throughout the summer, it could affect folks right here at home.

"Last summer we destroyed over 100,000 acres right here in Kern County," said Chief Marshall. "It looks likes its going to be a repeat this year. Only this year, there's fires all over the Western United States, which means less resources here in Kern County."

The Forest Service agreed.

"We are already getting stressed as far as out resources," said Forest Fire Chief Brent Skaggs of the Sequoia National Forest. "We are expecting a bumper crop for challenges for our fire resources."

In addition to resources, the lack of winter weather is another factor increasing the fire danger.

"Fire is going to (be) harder to control," said Chief Skaggs. "Last year with the rain we, had a good fighting chance. The forest actually got wet last year. That's why the fires didn't progress into the forests as much as the grasslands in Kern County."

Fire officials said the best way to protect yourself and your home is understanding the real dangers of the season.

"(Some people) aren't informed on where they're going and (don't) understand how quickly fire is going to spread," said Chief Skaggs. "They think they might be able to kick it out. My folks cant kick it out sometimes."

Fire officials said that hazard reduction should be done to protect you and your home. The deadline to cleanup the vegetation around your property is June 15. If that deadline is not met, property owners will be fined by the county.

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