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Fire season has ended

After about five months of severely dry weather, all it took was two days of rainfall – about two inches – for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to put an end to the 2004 fire season.

The state’s largest fire agency has begun pulling back its staffing and resources in Nevada County and has decommissioned two air tankers and a spotter plane used to battle foothill blazes.

“Chances of a large, damaging fire here are minimal – slim to none in Nevada, Yuba and Placer counties,” CDF Capt. Steve Mueller said.



Monday, CDF lifted a countywide burn ban. Residents are now allowed to burn organic material, such as leaves and branches. Burn permits are no longer required, but residents need to call the county’s burn ban hotline to see if burning is allowed each day before burning. For residents of northern Nevada County, the number is 274-7928; for residents of south county, the number is 268-1023. Grass Valley residents need to call 272-2465.

It is illegal to burn household trash, plastics and garbage, and residents should stay away from burning wet materials, because that will create a lot of smoke, dispatcher Nancy Picker said.




The firefighting airplanes, which went into operation June 16, include two Grumman S-2T air tankers and one North American OV-10 spotter plane. They will return, as usual, for the start of next year’s fire season. In the case of a major fire, Nevada County would be defended by air tankers based in Hollister, south of San Jose.

Mueller said Nevada County was lucky to escape the summer without any major fires.

“We caught the fires small and early,” Mueller said. He said this is partly due to few fires on red flag warning days, when there was low humidity, high winds and high temperatures.

With wildland fire danger no longer a major issue, the fire agency’s Grass Valley dispatchers said Nevada County residents need to start paying more attention to other safety issues.

“Now that the cold weather is approaching … people are using more heating devices in their homes,” said Capt. Mike DiMaggio.

That includes space heaters, fireplaces and candles. Residents need to use common sense, he said, and make sure that those devices do not start house fires.


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