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Thursday, November 14, 2013

UPDATE CAL FIRE San Mateo & Santa Cruz Unit Extends Fire Season Staffing Duration Until Monday Maybe Longer #CaFire

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
San Mateo & Santa Cruz Unit

CONTACT: Angela Bernheisel, Division Chief (831) 475-8643
RELEASE DATENovember 14, 2013

CAL FIRE Extends Duration for Fire Season Staffing

Update 11/19 1330: Cal Fire has extended its fire season staffing in San Mateo County until Monday, according to officials.
Fires have scorched 152 acres in the San Mateo-Santa Cruz Cal Fire region this year, a 360 percent increase from last year.During one of the driest years on record in the stateThe cost of extending Cal Fire staffing through Monday is $126,000. Depending on weather conditions, Division Chief AngelaBernheisel said she could extend that deadline.
 The state fire agency has determined that “dangerous fire conditions” continue to exist on the Peninsula, and that the danger will require the staff of six trucks to remain in the area.
 This year stands out as being particularly hazardous in terms of the threat from wildfires, officials note. So far in 2013, the San Mateo-Santa Cruz Cal Fire unit has responded to 344 blazes within its area of responsibility, according to Division Chief Angela Bernheisel. And those 344 fires are responsible for considerably more destruction — scorching 152 acres of land, or 360 percent more acreage than in 2012. Last year, 296 fires in the unit’s coverage area burned only about 33 acres of land.

Felton - With dangerous fire conditions continuing for the CAL FIRE San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit, resources and staffing have been extended longer than usual. Traditionally, the danger from wildland fires is significantly reduced by the end of October when fall rains begin and the wildland firefighting season comes to a close.  This year, after the record-low rainfall that led into fire season and with no significant rain in the forecast, CAL FIRE continues to staff aircraft, heavy equipment, fire engines and seasonal firefighters to carry on the firefighting force in the region.

“The 2013 fire season started earlier than normal and is continuing much later than normal, making for one of the longest fire seasons we’ve experienced in the San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit in decades,” said Unit Chief Scott Jalbert. “We have also seen fires burning in areas where we have rarely seen wildfires in the past.”

So far this year, CAL FIRE resources from the San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit responded to 344 wildland fires in the State Responsibility Area compared to 296 last year and 266 in 2011. This year, 152 acres has burned compared to 33 acres last year and 10 acres in 2011.  Local CAL FIRE resources also assisted other fire agencies with wildland firefighting on 74 fires this year compared to 24 last year and four in 2011.

Live fuel moisture sampling sites in the local area that have been measured since the mid-1970s have reached record low levels and the potential continues for wildland fires in the San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit. The burn ban that was put in place on April 29th continues to be in effect.  No open burning, other than approved campfires, is allowed without special permits. Residents are encouraged to maintain defensible space around residences for 100 feet by removing dead vegetation that accumulates this time of year. For more information on creating defensible space and hardening your home, visit


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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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