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Fires thus far have been quickly extinguished

But the season is about to change

Fires across Plumas and neighboring counties have thus far been contained quickly. It’s easy to credit that outcome with the timely response of local volunteer fire districts, CalFire and the U.S. Forest Service. And while they certainly deserve credit, there has been something else working in our favor — the conditions — but that’s about to change.

The long and wet winter has kept grasses and other brush green farther into the season than we’ve grown accustomed. The green fuel has kept fires from taking off quickly as happens later in fire season. As an example, CalFire only recently implemented its ban on backyard burning. But now, driving along the roadways, it’s easy to observe that the grasses are starting to turn brown. And that, according to Plumas National Forest spokeswoman Lee Anne Schramel, is when we need to become extra cautious.

And while that includes some easily identifiable practices such as completely extinguishing a campfire or not throwing a cigarette on the ground, there are other precautions that need to be taken. For example, we’ve all seen people pulled off the side of the road talking on their cell phones. But before you pull off, check to make sure that the area isn’t covered with dry grass. The devastating Carr Fire in Redding began when a vehicle traveling down the road sent out a spark.

For that reason Schramel says people need to be extra cautious when they are working in their yards — mowing lawns, weed eating — that could strike a rock and spark. Limit such activities to early morning hours and always make sure that there is a hose or fire extinguisher nearby.

A recent fire up the hill from a rural neighborhood in Quincy quickly caught the attention of area residents who used wet towels to tamp down the flames until the fire departments arrived. The cause of that fire is still unknown, but again even though the neighbors took quick action, Schramel said that the fire was spreading at a slow rate. We can’t be complacent. When the brush is drier and if there’s wind involved, such an event could quickly become a catastrophe.

We still have months of fire season ahead of us. Remember that the Camp Fire ignited in November, a month when historically we have been in the clear. It’s important to remain vigilant, and be careful about our own actions. No one wants to be the person that wipes out a town, even if it is an accident.

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