DANVILLE (CBS SF) — Warning letters have gone out to residents in Contra Costa County with a vegetation abatement deadline of May 31st as the fire season approaches, but firefighters say it’s the drought that will make their job even tougher this year.

“I think it’s a good idea to keep people aware that we are drier this season than maybe we have been in the past,” Danville resident Travis Baker said.

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But, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District’s Robert Marshall says statewide water cutbacks have people letting their lawns go brown, and it’s the trees that can turn a bad fire into an inferno.

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“A pine tree for example with all these needles, if that catches fire it’s going to send embers for a long, long distance, and put a lot of homes in danger,” Marshall said.

His advice is to water your trees.  For homes on flat land, Marshall suggests clearing dry brush thirty feet around the house.   For homes on hillsides, he says even more space needs to be cleared.

“That’s the biggest thing they can do to help us now,” he said.

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For Travis Baker, who “would rather see someone’s house not burn than burn,” the message on the notices was loud and clear.