BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – In California, wildfire season has morphed into a year-long problem. Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association says over 97% of the state is experiencing a drought. This comes after the most severe wildfire season in California’s history. Weather experts say most of Kern County is experiencing extreme drought, so first responders say you should prepare for a hot and smoky summer.
“We’ve not had areas in our mountain communities that have had a good recovery of moisture in their fuels,” said Andrew Freeborn, Public Information Officer for the Kern County Fire Department. “So things are going to burn early in the year, as if it’s the end of summer and things have been drying out all year long.”
Wildfires scorched over 4 million acres of land across the state last year, affecting over 10,000 buildings. Freeborn says preparation can help keep your home safe.
“Now’s the time to get those wood piles moved away,” said Freeborn. “Keep a nice clean area around the home, reduce the dry vegetation. Get this cleared off of our roofs, out of the rain gutters.”
Firefighters say you should also fill a backpack with essentials like food, water, and medication.
“Building a to-go bag and an escape route in advance,” said Freeborn. “That way no matter what the emergency is, wildfire or other, you’re ready at a moment’s notice to flee.”
Experts say you should keep that bag packed year round.
“There’s become this notion of fire season. We don’t have that anymore,” said Freeborn.
If you want to sign up for emergency alerts and see more fire safety tips, you can use the state’s website, readyforwildfire.org.