The USDA has increased Forest Service presence in Southern California, as nearly 950 personnel are now engaged in the effort to fight raging fires and save lives. Critical fire weather conditions continue to threaten large portions of California after fires have burned across the state for weeks. Gusty winds, extremely low relative humidity, and record low fuel moisture will allow explosive growth on any new start in the windy areas during peak heating hours.
“The brave men and women of the Forest Service continue to risk their lives to save people and property,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “2017 has been the costliest fire year on record, which highlights the problem we have in budgeting for fire suppression. The more we spend fighting fires, the less we have for forest management and preventative maintenance. Without proper fire mitigation efforts, fire seasons will only grow longer and more intense.”
2017 marks a year of unprecedented wildfire activity. More than two million acres of national forest land have burned, along with millions more acres of state and privately-owned land.
Currently still burning, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County has already consumed over 250,000 acres, 117,000 acres of which are in Los Padres National Forest. With two reported fatalities and as many as 18,000 homes threatened, firefighters remain engaged in protecting homes and establishing direct firelines where possible. Crews from USDA’s Forest Service, California Fire, and the National Guard continued to actively engage in suppressing small spot fires around the southeastern portion of the perimeter.