SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – Cal Fire is staffing up its wildfire response crew earlier than normal the year after an uncommonly dry winter across most of the state.

Officials say the seasonal firefighters are being brought in beginning Monday because the drought-like conditions have increased wildfire risk.

“Even with rain in March, our fire activity has remained 200 percent more over average statewide,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, Cal Fire director said in a press release. “The rain has been great, but it has not been enough to make up for our dry winter and California’s drought.”

Calfire says between January 1 and March 22, the agency responded to over 800 wildfires that charred roughly 2,300 acres. In an average year for the same time period, they would typically respond to under 275 wildfires for approximately 1,000 acres.

Staffing increases will be focused in the Bay Area, Central California and Sacramento Foothills.

Many Remote fire stations will also be opening early.

Read more on Calfire’s hiring process here.

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