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SCVNews.com | Forest Service Ramping Up for Start of Fire Season | 05-23-2012
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Los Padres National Forest officials announced that wildland firefighters will transition into a “high response” posture beginning May 25 in conjunction with the declared start to fire season.

This action is based on low plant moisture levels and increasingly dry conditions across the Central Coast and inland regions. The Forest Service is adopting this heightened posture along with fire departments throughout the local area.

“This past winter and spring saw below average rainfall, and with a hot summer ahead of us we need to take precautions against wildfire starts,” said Los Padres Forest Supervisor Peggy Hernandez. “Our fire staff is shifting to high response and we’ll be prepared for whatever the (fire) season brings.”

As seasonal fire staff report for duty, suppression resources will reach full capacity. The Reload Base at Santa Maria Airport will have full-time staffing throughout fire season. Although Santa Maria is not a Tanker Base, the Forest Service will request air tanker support through national federal emergency managers in the event of a large fire. Full staffing at the Reload Base will ensure that whenever national or Cal Fire air assets are available, the Forest Service will ensure retardant is efficiently reloaded onto the aircraft.

“The Reload Base at Santa Maria is a force multiplier for the Forest and the community,” said Los Padres Fire & Aviation Chief Anthony Escobar. “The retardant loading operation is based on a quick turnaround. It’s ready to go whenever it’s needed and tankers are on-site.”

Forest officials estimate that Level II fire restrictions will take effect next month, and visitors are reminded to exercise caution when enjoying recreation activities in Los Padres.

For more information, visit the Forest website at http://www.usda.gov/lpnf.

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