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After the most destructive wildfire season ever in 2015, parts of the western U.S., including California, face elevated fire danger again this year, experts say.
In a report released earlier this month, the National Interagency Fire Center is predicting conditions that put much of the West, Southwest, Hawaii and Alaska in above-normal wildfire danger this spring and summer.
The report notes Southern California and western Nevada face “extreme to exceptional drought conditions” that will pose a problem as seasonal rains taper off in mid to late June.
Thanks to El Niño rains and continuing drought conditions, California’s landscape has received enough water for new vegetation to spring up while sections of forest continue to dry out, experts say.
“One of the guys says this is the most grass they’ve seen in this area in many years. It’s thick and getting taller and we had rain today,” Amy Head, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told the LA Times. “Between just a normal everyday fire season, the increased grass crop, the bark beetles, it could be a very busy fire season.”
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of the central and southern Sierra Nevada remain in extreme or exceptional drought conditions, the worst categories possible.
Read more about the dangerous mix that firefighters may have to contend with this year at the LA Times.com.