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Fire Crews Working Throughout California As Wildfire Preparedness Week Kicks Off

Bob Mofitt/Caapital Public Radio
Cal Fire marks the start of Wildfire Preparedness Week with an event in Sacramento.

The 2018 wildfire season set records for death and destruction in California. The state has identified 35 projects it says are key to preventing fire spread in the state this year.

Cal Fire hopes to complete the projects in advance of the coming fire season. Thom Porter, the new director of Cal Fire, says conditions are changing rapidly.

"[From] sea level up to about 2,000 feet, we're already seeing significant dry out of all of the grassy fuels,” Porter said at a news conference on Monday at McClellan Business Park, where Cal Fire has an air operations base.

He says fire crews are rushing to clear brush and grass in foothill locations before they dry out.

The California National Guard says this is the first time it has trained hand crews to clear areas before fire season, assigning 110 soldiers to work in Redding, Auburn, Monterey and Fresno, according to Major General David Baldwin.

Of the 35 projects, many are fire breaks, or strips of open space that stop the spread of fire, including ones in Orinda, east of Berkeley; in Colfax near Auburn, and in Southern California near the unincorporated community of Guatay in the Cuyamaca Mountains of San Diego County.

Cal Fire says the 35 projects were chosen in an effort to protect 200 communities.  

Fires burned a record 1.8 million acres and killed 100 people last year, 85 of whom died in the Camp Fire.

This is Wildfire Preparedness Week, as proclaimed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who asked for an increase in funding for firefighting and fire prevention efforts in his first budget proposal.

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