Increased wildfire risk due to California rainstorms

Why new vegetation makes it important to prepare for fires

As the weather gets warmer, fire season approaches. You would think the unprecedented rain would be a good thing, but it can also mean a more formidable fire season. Dana Hammerstrom spoke with an expert about how California residents and even us students can prepare for wildfire season.

While recent rainfall in California may have your worries eased about the upcoming fire season, don’t get too comfortable. Despite the nearly 32 trillion gallons of water dumped on California over a three-week period in January, fire season has the potential to be even more dangerous and damaging this year.

According to recent reports from major media outlets, including the LA Times and The Guardian, one product of the storm was an abundance of new vegetation — vegetation that will turn into match sticks once it dies and dries out in the warmer spring and summer months. Rainy relief in January comes at a cost for California natives, and, according to Cal Fire battalion chief Isaac Sanchez, this is the new reality for our increasingly destroyed environment.

Experts still say that it is too early to predict, however it’s never too early to prepare.

Rebecca Miller, an affiliated postdoctoral scholar with the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, as well as a Triple A fellow with the U.S. Department of State, shared why it is so important to be ready for fire season before it begins.

Rebecca Miller: The best time to be thinking about wildfires is always now, before a wildfire comes close to your community. That could involve checking in with your local fire department to better understand what your risk hazards are in your community. It also might involve looking at some of the historic smoke patterns that we’ve seen over just the past few years. But the first priority is understanding what your risk is and then from there, working to mitigate it.

Many of the biggest wildfires that have affected California in recent years have been forest fires, and while Los Angeles county contains a majority of urban areas, residents must prepare for fire season nonetheless.

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