Fire threat in Kern County grows

Posted at 1:55 PM, Apr 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-20 20:35:43-04

The Kern County Fire Department is already preparing for a tough fire season, Captain Tyler Townsend said Wednesday.

23ABC has been telling viewers of the wildfire risk we face with the persistent drought and incoming heat. "Really in California, there is no start and ending to fire season at this point," Townsend said.

This is apparent after two fires started off Interstate 5 near Gorman and off Highway 58 Tuesday.

Townsend says with the recent rain, grass and brush grew several feet tall, and with the heat, that will quickly turn to tinder, ready to ignite.

Townsend said to combat this high fire risk, the department is working on hiring seasonal firefighters and using bulldozers to improve fire roads, that act as fire breaks.

"Due to the budget we have had to postpone things as much as possible. At this time we really need to bring them [seasonal firefighters] back because any day now we could have serious wildfires," Townsend said.

In February, Kern County Fire faced a possible $3.25 million cut to their budget, but staved it off this year.

Townsend said firefighters need the public's help to prevent wildfires.

Ways you can help are:

  • Not flicking cigarette butts out the window.
  • If you are towing, ensure your chain is not dragging on the road.
  • If your car overheats, don't drive it into brush on the side of the road.

Wildfire Awareness Week is the first week of May. During this time, fire crews have previously given out old fire hose to residents who own trailers to protect their chains from sparking against pavement.

Crews are now hoping residents will take initiative and save their community the cost and danger of another fire.