SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Winter That Overstayed its Welcome ended up bestowing California with a gift: Wildfires took a far smaller toll than normal this year.
As some units of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, declared peak wildfire season over this week, a state tally showed that fires consumed 92,212 acres, the fifth smallest toll in 40 years and far fewer acres than the 93,000 burned the previous year. The acreage includes lands overseen by the state as well as national forests managed by the federal government.
In the 12 months ending in June, California received 124 percent of normal rainfall, according to Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services, a consulting firm based in Saratoga, Calif.
October's periodic showers prompted the Cal Fire's San Francisco Bay Area units to end fire season Monday.
"The rain has everything to do with slowing the fire season down," said Mary Welna, Cal Fire spokeswoman.
This year's mild fire season follows on 2010, when California recorded the second mildest fire season in 40 years.
Fewer fires this year came as a relief to Cal Fire officials, who saw their staff cut in state budget squeezes. Engine companies were reduced from four to three firefighters.
The state also cut $15 million from Cal Fire.
"Having a reduced activity during fire season has been a great cost savings to the state," said Jim Crawford, a Santa Clara unit battalion chief.
Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services