Fire danger high statewide

Dry winter, spring could mean busy fire season for California

The unusually dry winter and spring months have California poised for an especially harsh wildfire season, state fire officials warn.

Though they have been contained to between two and five acres, there have already been 818 wildfires statewide in 2012, roughly triple the number for this time last year, according to The year’s snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountains contains just 40 percent of the average water content—conditions experts are comparing to those of 2003, when the largest fire ever recorded in California killed 14 people, destroyed 2,323 homes and burned 280,200 acres in San Diego County.

The coming season is likely to stretch Cal Fire, which reduced the number of seasonal fire- fighters from 3,100 to 1,700 over the past two years due to budget cuts.