Hot Dry Conditions Raise Fire and Drought Fears in the Bay Area

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It didn't rain very much. It's unusually hot. And now the state is literally on fire.

Up on Echo Summit in the Sierra, Frank Gehrke, chief surveyor for the California Department of Water Resources told the Associated Press he wasn't finding a snowpack.

"I'm finding nothing," he said. "Seriously, there is no snow on the course at all."

That sometimes happens in May, and the department has yet to declare a drought in the state. In fall the state got more rainfall than usual, so reservoirs are relatively full. But another dry year could mean serious problems.

In the meantime, dry vegetation is fueling fires, and hot winds are fanning them. In Sonoma County, a 125-acre fire was 60 percent contained, the AP reported.


KCRA showed how the fire looked on Wednesday:

The firefighters expected to surround it Thursday with a force of 260 firefighters.

Here's the AP's look at other fires in the state:

  • A 2,000-acre blaze that began in the Camarillo area along U.S. 101 in Ventura County was uncontained. It prompted the evacuation of a Thousand Oaks neighborhood and the campus of California State University, Channel Islands. At least a half-dozen RVs burned in a parking area enclosed by brushy hills. Embers scattered along ridges and into neighborhoods abutting the brush lands and smoke streamed for miles. More than 200 firefighters were aided by water- and fire retardant-dropping aircraft.
  • A 12-acre grass fire in Riverside County was 50 percent contained after destroying two homes and damaging two others in the Jurupa Valley area. Also burned were five outbuildings, 10 vehicles and a boat. An elementary school and a gasoline station were evacuated. Nearly 60 firefighters were at the scene.
  • A 4-square-mile Riverside County fire that began Wednesday north of Banning was 40 percent contained after destroying one home. Nearly 700 firefighters and aircraft worked the fire in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. Most of the area was being mopped up but active flames remained on the north flank. Two firefighters received minor injuries.
  • A fire north of Butte Meadows in Tehama County spread to 2,000 acres of brush and timber. It was 10 percent contained and did not threaten any homes. Nearly 500 firefighters were battling flames.
  • A 110-acre fire in Glenn County was 5 percent contained. There were nearly 150 firefighters at the Elk Creek site but the steep terrain made it hard to reach.
    A 55-acre wildfire in Butte County was 50 percent contained and holding. More than 180 firefighters battled flames in the timberland.

The National Weather Service expects the summerry weather to continue at least until Sunday, when it foresees a drop in temperature and a chance of showers.