Cal Fire increases staffing as fire threat expands

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Starting Monday, Cal Fire will be hiring additional, seasonal firefighters in central California, the Bay Area and the Sacramento foothills.

The staffing increases are in response to a significant rise in wildfires across much of California, agency officials said. Despite recent rainfall, drought conditions haven't changed much.

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

The agency also plans to open many remote seasonal fire stations as well.

Cal Fire officials referenced last week's fire on Encinal Road in the Chualar area. In that incident, a controlled burn became out of control and spread to around 400 acres.

Between Jan. 1 and March 22, the agency's firefighters have responded to more than 800 wildfires statewide, charring a total of nearly 2,300 acres. In an average year during the same time period, Cal Fire would typically respond to fewer than 275 fires, consuming a total of 1,000 acres.

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