Agencies call end to fire season

Agencies call end to fire season

20 November 2006

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Stockton, CA, USA — Fire season is over, according to the state and federal agencies that battle blazes in Mother Lode forests.

Fire season ends officially today for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Stanislaus National Forest. That means seasonal fire crews will go home for the winter.

But recent rains and snow at high altitudes meant fire season was already over for most Sierra Nevada forests. Yosemite National Park declared the end of its fire season Wednesday after about an inch of rain Tuesday.

The end of fire season also means the end of easy access to some parts of the Sierra. The California Department of Transportation closed Highway 108 at the Sonora Pass for winter Thursday.

Travel might be more difficult, but brush burning is easier thanks to the wet weather. The Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit of the CDF has lifted restrictions on burning hours.

Residents with appropriate permits have been allowed to burn brush 24 hours a day. Once the declared fire season ends today, such CDF permits won’t even be necessary. During times of higher fire danger, brush burning is limited to night hours.

Officials said this year’s fire season was relatively mild.

In the areas protected by the CDF in Calaveras, Tuolumne, and parts of eastern Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, there were 345 wildland fires covering 3,618 acres. That CDF area also had 148 structure fires.

Stanislaus National Forest had only 61 wildland fires and two structure fires, covering a total of 224.5 acres.

Yosemite National Park, which allows many back-country fires to burn to re-establish a more-natural balance in the forest, had 6,500 acres of fires, including a 6,000-acre cluster of fires that Yosemite officials call the Frog Complex.

Wet weather doesn’t mean all fire danger is past, as CDF crews learned Thursday when they battled fires in Copperopolis and near Valley Springs that were started by illegal debris burns. The two fires charred 52 acres.

The larger blaze, near Valley Springs, required crews to stay on hand overnight doing mop-up.

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