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Cal Fire increasing firefighters due to drought

By Ricardo Navarro, Reporter, Ricardonavarro@kionrightnow.com
Published On: Jan 20 2014 08:24:23 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 21 2014 03:15:59 PM CST

It's been 44 days since the Central Coast has seen any rainfall. That's not normal, especially during the winter, when we're supposed to be stocking up on water.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -

It's been 44 days since the Central Coast has seen any rainfall. That's not normal, especially during the winter, when we're supposed to be stocking up on water.

Last week Gov. Jerry brown declared a drought emergency. Among other things that declaration calls for an increase in firefighters with money, ironically, from the state's rainy day fund.

"I've been telling the crews basically don't let your guard down. I don't recall a dry January like this, ever," said Santa Cruz County Division Chief Rob Sherman.

In the past couple weeks Cal Fire responded to more than 150 fires statewide and it's prepping for more.

"We are trying to do what we can do to protect locally but we are also staffing for the state as well," said Sherman.

Sherman said the governor's drought declaration is going to help meet the fire needs of the area.

Santa Cruz County is authorized to hire 12 more firefighters starting Wednesday. Right now it has five engines, but the state declaration gives them one more engine. Each engine normally has two firefighters; they are increasing that to three each. They also plan to use engines usually saved for summer fires.

"They are more in the urban wild land interface, so we are talking about brush ridges, four wheel drives," said Sherman.

For the Monterey and San Benito division, Cal Fire usually has two engines during wintertime. Now it's increased to six engines with three firefighters per engine. Cal Fire there does not plan to hire more unless weather worsens. That's because they have not downsized staffing levels since summertime.

"You have to always be prepared and that's why we are going that extra step to make sure that the community is safe," said Sherman.

Cal Fire would like to remind anyone with fireplaces to dispose of ashes properly. Several acres on the Central Coast have burned because of the ashes catching fire. They said it may be cold at night but the ashes can still start a fire.

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