Wildland firefighters in the Los Padres National Forest, which courses through San Luis Obispo County, made the transition into a “high-response posture” last week, the Forest Service has announced, marking the start of fire season.
“This past winter and spring saw below-average rainfall, and with a hot summer ahead of us, we need to take precautions against wildfire starts,” Los Padres Forest Supervisor Peggy Hernandez said.
The action coincides with the declared start to fire season and is based on low plant moisture levels and increasingly dry conditions across the Central Coast and inland regions.
The intensified “posture” means that as seasonal fire staff report for duty, “suppression resources will reach full capacity,” she said.
For example, the reload base at Santa Maria Public Airport will have full-time staffing throughout fire season. Although Santa Maria is not a tanker base, the Forest Service will request air tanker support through national federal emergency managers in the event of a large fire.
Forest officials estimated that higher fire restrictions will take effect during June.