[LA FEATURE]Running Dry

LA FEATURE

Drought-stricken California communities face a third-consecutive dry year with no relief in sight

Cal Fire at Peak Staffing as Wildfire Activity Remains High, Drought Conditions Persist

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    NEWSLETTERS

    There is a high chance of wildfires for SoCal this year. Residents are preparing and Cal Fire is responding by hiring more firefighters. Ted Chen reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 31, 2014. (Published Monday, Mar 31, 2014)

    Cal Fire officials have moved to peak staffing as extreme drought conditions continue to cripple California and wildfire activity remains high.

    The around-the-clock staffing in Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties comes just weeks after a strong storm system pounded Southern California but did little to relieve the threat of potential fire danger.

    “Even with rain in March, our fire activity has remained 200 percent more over average statewide,” said Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott in a news release.

    Nearly 2,300 acres have been charred in wildfires so far in 2014, up from only about 1,000 last year. The overall number of fires is up as well, reaching more than 800 compared to last year’s 275 during the same time period.

    During peak staffing, all fire equipment and facilities will be available to fight wildfires -- including the 200 additional firefighters hired to help out now instead of waiting until the summer.

    "(We'll have) about 25 additional engines to respond, not only in San Bernardino, Riverside or San Diego, but all of Southern California." said Cal Fire Capt. Mike Mohler.

    The focus on wildfire danger comes days after a U.S. Drought Monitor report stated that about 72 percent of the state had reached Extreme or Exceptional drought conditions.

    A storm system was expected to bring some rain to Southern California from late afternoon Monday through Wednesday.  

    NBC4's Ted Chen contributed to this report.