NOVATO (KPIX) — A collection of Marin County fire agencies converged in the hills outside of Novato this week with the goal of preparing the land and the firefighters for the season ahead.

“The winds are favorable, in terms of the wind pushing the fire into the black,” said Captain Todd Stanfield of the Ross Valley Fire Department. “That means it’s a backing fire, and we can control it a lot better than if it was pushing into unburnt fuel.”

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Conditions were good for a controlled burn on the northern slope of Big Rock Ridge Friday. It’s an opportunity to cut down some of the fuel out here, but the primary objective is getting crews ready for fire season.

“Every year we bring on roughly 100 seasonal firefighters to support fire conditions during the summer months,” explained Battalion Chief Graham Groneman of the Marin County Fire Department. “Really, our goal here is to give them the tools they need to be successful when they go out to protect your house, your neighbor’s house, or your community.”

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It wasn’t just the new seasonal crews. Even then most experienced firefighters here were getting a lesson in the severity of the conditions they will face this year. They say it’s evident the moment they set fire to the ground.

“What we’re seeing early in the year is these lighter, flashy fuels,” Stanfield says. “They’re burning as if it was later in the fire season because of the drought conditions, and the weather we’re experiencing today.”

So this was a warm up, ahead of days that will get much warmer.

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“Fires are going to burn with more intensity,” Groneman says. “When you couple that with some of the extreme weather events that we’ve been seeing over the last 5 to 10 years, we have the potential for an expert explosive fire season, yet again this year.”