Southern California

Drought Conditions, Red Flag Warning May Force Cal Fire to Tap Into Seasonal Firefighters

Cal Fire started final testing Wednesday to wrap up its second wave of hiring for Bay Area seasonal firefighters.

The state's historic drought prompted training for seasonal firefighters to be ramped up ahead of schedule.

There currently is a Red Flag Warning in effect for Southern California, with increasing wind and rising temperatures in the Bay Area. The conditions could mean Cal Fire will add the new firefighters as early as Wednesday night.

"Normally there may be certain areas of the state that are more prone to fires, but I think this year it could be statewide," Capt. Sean Ketchum of Cal Fire's helitack unit.

The first academy of Bay Area Cal Fire firefighters completed training and were assigned last week. The 26 continuing seasonal firefighters from that batch tested Wednesday and are scheduled to be in place Monday.

Still, Cal Fire warns new hires may have to be called in for assignment earlier than expected.

"With the events happening in Southern California -- high winds, low humidity -- we positioned two strike teams in Southern California," Cal Fire Battalion Chief Nick Ciardella said. "And if need be, with the academy that's happening right now, we can staff engines as early as (Wednesday night)."

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