Forest conditions could lead to fire-filled summer |

Forest conditions could lead to fire-filled summer

Nevada County fire officials today said conditions are already bad and it could be a rough wildfire year.

At a fire season 2004 perspective put on by the Tahoe National Forest, local, state and national-level officials said moisture in dead, forest floor brush and timber is already past the critical level. Forest wood is even less moist than kiln-dried lumber, officials said.

Manzanita is expected to hit the critical low moisture level in mid-July.

“We’re in new territory,” said Tony Clarabut, chief of the Nevada-Yuba-Placer counties unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention. “We don’t usually see moisture levels dropping so far, so fast.”

Officials said residents need to keep their land clear of dead brush and realize that emergency fire response is slower in rural areas than in the city.

Representatives from the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, county sheriff’s office, the Grass Valley Fire Department, and the county Office of Emergency Services said they were ready for a bad fire season and evacuations.

Evacuation routes would be decided by the location of a fire and its behavior, the experts said. Local radio stations would be relied on to get such a message out, along with the, officials said.

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