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Memorial Day weekend fire dangers

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Memorial Day weekend is often considered the kick-off to summer vacations and outdoor activities. But firefighters are urging caution this holiday because of an increase in the fire danger.

Cal Fire officials say recent fire activity -- like a grass fire that burned right up to fence lines of homes in Southwest Fresno -- should serve as a reminder that conditions are ripe for wildfires.

Mike Bowman said, "I think we've all noticed how the grass has changed overnight it seems like so that means something to us and we've already noticed that in our fire activity."

Fresno County Fire Captain Mike Bowman says crews have already responded to twice as many fires this year compared to the same time last year.

"We're getting three or four fires a day and some of them are bumping homes," Bowman said. "We've had several in north Clovis in the last two weeks that have seriously caused some reductions in our resources."

The lack of rainfall across California has set the stage for an increased potential of a major fire. Couple that with an increase in outdoor activities over the Memorial Day weekend -- and firefighters could have a problem.

Bowman said, "We've got cool windy conditions coming up from the California coast that's going to affect fire conditions."

So they're warning you to be extra careful.

When camping - Bowman recommends clearing away grass, leaves and other debris within a 10-foot perimeter of a campfire. He says make sure it's completely out before leaving and check to see if you need a permit.

"Make sure they have their clearances and a hoseline nearby," Bowman said. "A garden hose or something, a backup in case something goes wrong."

When pulling off the road to park or sight-see - Bowman says make sure your hot car isn't parked on dry grass. And if you if you're staying close to home this Memorial Day -- double check your defensible space and cutback any dry grass.

"One thing landowners can do is prep their property," Bowman said. "Do their disc line. Anything under five acres the need to disc completely down to the ground to bare soil."

Suggestions for a safe and happy holiday weekend.

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fire, holiday, local, linda mumma
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