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Dry conditions mean we all need to be careful
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The Central Valley has recorded the driest spring in 88 years. At the same time, it seems, we have experienced an unusually high number of very windy days to add to the severity of the situation.

As further evidence of the water shortage and fire danger situation we are in, Governor Schwarzenegger recently declared that the state was in a "serious drought" -- the first time since 1991. This state, of course, now has far more inhabitants than in 1991, so the water shortage may come to bear with greater impact than in the past.

From a public safety perspective, this drought situation poses a severe fire threat for wild land and urban interface areas. The fire service in this state has already had to battle an unusually high number of serious fires already throughout the state, which normally would be more likely to manifest in the late summer months, like August and September.

The threat of fires is not only limited to wild lands. Homes that exist near fields and treed areas are also threatened because of the extremely dry conditions. Even fires in smaller empty lots and fields within a city can spread to nearby homes and other structures. Not only are dry fields and other vegetation vulnerable to fires, but wooden structures like fences and roofs (in particular) are especially devoid of moisture.

Because of the high fire threat situation, it is particularly important that care be taken to avoid accidental fires. Misuse of fireworks, the use of illegal fireworks, kids playing with matches, improper storage of flammable liquids, unsafe electrical connections, power cords, etc., should be corrected without delay. A power cord lying in dry grass can start a fire. When cutting dry weeds, try to do so early in the day when the humidity is higher. Rotary mower blades can cause sparks when the blade comes into contact with rocks or metals, which can result in a dangerous situation. When doing work in the yard with these types of equipment, it may help to keep a garden hose nearby just in case.

Some foreclosed or otherwise vacant homes may have a problem with dry grass and tall weeds. If you observe one of these troubled locations in Ceres, please be sure to call Code Enforcement at 538-5799.

The possibilities for starting an unwanted fire are many. We are just reminding everyone to think about the increased potential for fires this season and stay mindful of the high likelihood that a small fire can quickly spread and burn lots of acreage, homes and other structures. Let us make every effort to get through this season without any major fires.