CONTRA COSTA (CBS SF) — The recent wet weather is giving fire departments across the Bay Area the chance to strategically prepare for the next wildfire season.
Contra Costa County Fire is using seasonal firefighters as part of a fuel reduction program that doesn’t happen during extremely dry hot summer months.READ MORE: Kaiser Oakland Medical Center Staffers Tied to COVID Omicron Outbreak
Right now, they’re being used while there’s a small window of opportunity in the far eastern part of the county.
The threat of wildfires may be diminished with all the recent rain, but there’s no cutting back on work that needs to be done.
“California’s fire season is year round now so while we have a time now where our local current risk has dropped we’re taking on these kinds of projects to hopefully reduce our risk for next season,” said ConFire Captain Dave Woods.
Morgan Territory Regional Preserve is a vast area with narrow, winding roads. Contra Costa fire crews are clearing vulnerable evacuation routes cluttered with dead trees, brush, and dry fuel.
“We’re reducing the fire load and the fuels that can carry a fire ground up into the vegetation or trees,” said Woods.
For the second consecutive year, the cleanup has been a coordinated effort with Contra Costa County Department of Public Works supplying heavy equipment and workers.READ MORE: Scott Peterson Resentenced To Life Without Parole; Laci's Mom: 'You Will Always Be Their Murderer'
“Because of the rain which gave us the opportunity to do this and it has been so successful already and there’s such demand, we think there’s a lot of opportunity to mitigate risk ahead of fire weather,” said ConFire spokesperson Steve Hill.
Together, they’ll be clearing about 6 miles of roads in 4 to 5 days, a task that normally takes weeks without extra help.
“Bringing multiple county agencies together and personnel, we’re a force multiplier and come together and get a lot of work done in a short amount of time,” said Woods.
Crew 12 fire control workers, accounting for less than 10 percent of the department, cleared areas in El Sobrante, Lafayette, and Martinez last week.
After this project in far eastern Contra Costa County, the crews will move on to parts of Moraga and Orinda.
ConFire is optimistic that programs like this could lead to fire control workers who can be employed year round. Currently, there are two crews of 12.MORE NEWS: UPDATE: Parents Who Sent Child With COVID to Corte Madera School Could Face Criminal Charges
Instead of stopping this kind of work in November, the hope is to extend it through the winter months.