Santa Cruz County

A dangerous fire season means a costly one, officials say

Calfire expects to tap into emergency funds


BEN LOMOND, Calif. - We've been hearing it for months now. The temperatures are rising. There's still not enough rain, and the vegetation is dried out. Cal Fire Chief Scott Jalbert said this is a perfect recipe for a very dangerous fire season.

"Last year we had 19 fires and this year we are already have 30 fires. The fuel conditions that we are seeing and projecting are essentially lining up to be a busy fire season," said Jalbert.

A hectic fire season comes with big costs. Cal Fire has hired on 54 additional firefighters including new fire inspectors.

"Already we have conducted over a 1000 inspections in Santa Cruz County area alone," said Jalbert.

Cal Fire has 10 fully staffed fire engines already, and on May 17th,  they will have 12 fully staffed engines. This usually doesn't happen until early June or July.

Jalbert said there's no doubt the state will be breaking into their $172 million emergency fund.

"With the possible increase of fire activity it's not just locally it's going to be state wide-the potential for our resources to be called to other places is increased," said Jalbert.

In 2009 the Lockheed fire ripped through the Santa Cruz Mountains. In the end it cost 26.1 million to put out.

"There are times we have to expend a lot of funds because we do need the resources," said Jalbert.

Despite an unpredictable fire season filled with rising costs, one thing Cal Fire says you can count on, is dedication to keeping your home safe.

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