Firefighters expect devastating wildfire season

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Wildfire season could be especially severe in Kern. 100% of the county is in drought— either extreme drought— or the even worse exceptional drought. That means we could see a scorching, smoky summer. Firefighters say it’s so dry the term wildfire season has lost its meaning.

“We’ve already had over 4,000 acres burn in Kern County,” said Kern County Fire Department Chief David Witt. “We’re seeing that the fuel is susceptible to burn right now. So if we’re getting fires in January and we’re getting fires in March, we’re year round.”

First responders worry about a heightened fire risk, but that’s not the only problem.

“With less water, that means the resource we use to fight these fires becomes fewer and further in between,” said Andrew Freeborn, Public Information Officer for the Kern County Fire Department. “So that actually affects the fire suppression efforts.”

Firefighters say you can protect your family from fires by staying prepared.

“In the mountains especially there’s areas where we’re going out and doing inspections where they need to clear around their house and have defensible space,” said Witt.

And this doesn’t just apply to mountain communities … who typically see the worst of the flames.

“Because sometime we decide not to water our yard, and if everything’s dead around their house they’re in danger,” said Witt. “Or the city has some vacant houses, house fires, we’ve had vacant house fires. With that, the embers shoot out.”

Firefighters say everyone should make an escape plan and pack a bag with essentials like food and water in case of an emergency. For more fire safety tips and emergency alerts, visit the state’s website … ReadyforWildfire.org.

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