As California Gov. Jerry Brown declares May 5 through 11 Wildfire Awareness Week, Murrieta's congressman has joined with others in pushing Washington, D.C., to transfer excess military aircraft to the U.S. Forest Service for wildfire fighting purposes.
U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, along with Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, spearheaded a letter sent to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack regarding the transfer status. Click HERE to read the text.
"Last week's wildfires were yet another stark reminder of the danger we face here in the West," said Calvert, who represents Murrieta, among other local jurisdictions. "I'm hopeful the Obama Administration can act without any unnecessary delay in getting these excess military aircraft into the hands of our firefighting community."
Calvert's announcment Monday coincides with Brown's declaration and Cal Fire reminding residents of extreme wildfire dangers this season.
“The conditions right now are what we should be experiencing in June,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, Cal Fire director. “This year’s dry winter has resulted in a significant increase in fire activity, in fact Cal Fire firefighters have responded to nearly 1,100 wildfires this year, which is over 500 more than average.”
From January through May 2, nearly 23,000 acres have burned in California, which is significantly more than the 1,250 acres that had burned for the same time period last year, according to Pimlott.
Dangerous dry conditions are heightening fire concerns. Despite a weather break that brought rain Sunday and Monday and quelled fires burning throughout the state, Southern California is well below average rainfall totals.
A bleaker picture was painted May 2 when the state's final snow survey of the season revealed the statewide snowpack water content is only 17 percent of normal. Recent fires are being blamed on the lack of moisture. The Sacramento Bee called the diminished snowpack "an ominous situation for a state that depends on a steady stream of snowmelt to replenish reservoirs throughout the summer."
Even with the dry conditions, Pimlott argues most wildfires are preventable and residents can protect their homes by maintaining at least 100 feet of defensible space.
“We need residents and vacationers to be extra cautious outdoors so we can prevent wildfires from occurring in the first place," Pimlott said.
Homeowners looking for additional information on how to prepare themselves, their families and their homes for wildfire can visit www.ReadyForWildfire.org. The site offers tips for residents to make their homes more resistant to wildfires and to ensure that their families are ready to evacuate early and safely when a wildfire strikes. For more information visit www.fire.ca.gov or www.ReadyForWildfire.org