An uptick in grass fires across Sacramento. Here's what local firefighters say is causing them.

Sacramento firefighters noticing uptick in grass fires

SACRAMENTO — It has been busy few days for firefighters across Sacramento with an uptick of grass fires in the valley.

Even with the wetter winter this year and cooler temperatures this week, they warn fire danger is still very high.

Over the past weekend, Sacramento Metro Fire and the Sacramento Fire Department responded to over 25 grass fires — an unusual increase in calls with a lot of them in neighborhoods.

Although temperatures have been cooler for this time of the year, firefighters say to still keep your guard up.

"With all of the rainfall we got over the winter, a lot of people were expecting the grass to still be wet or green, but that's not the case," Captain Justin Sylvia with the Sacramento Fire Department said.

"The challenge also is we've had multiple rain cycles too, so that created a double growth. We have very thick brush that's going to make very strong fuel beds for fires," Captain Parker Wilbourn with the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District said.

Sylvia and Wilbourn said a lot of the fires over the weekend were unintentionally caused by people, but warn that people have to plan ahead.

"Things happen and you have to be ahead of it and be forward-thinking," Wilbourn said. "If there is an emergency, what are you going to do about it?"

In areas filled with overgrown dry grasses from an unusually wet winter — with a few strong breezes added in — it doesn't take much for a fire to spread.

"A lot of our community lives in areas that bump directly up to the grasses, so you can have a fire that starts well ahead of where you're at or far away. It can reach your house very quickly," Wilbourn said.

For those living in areas close to tall, dry grasses, they said it's best to have an evacuation plan and a go-bag in place. But there is time to prepare the area surrounding your home now.

"Clear that dry brush away from your house," Sylvia said. "We recommend at least 100 feet of defensible space."

By creating that defensible space beforehand, Sylvia said it can help keep a fire from getting too close to your home and others around you.

Sylvia and Wilbourn also say to get on top of cleaning now as the 4th of July is right around the corner.

"We do see fireworks around this time of the year — people lighting off fireworks from maybe last year or illegal fireworks. They can really cause a lot of damage." Wilbourn said. "Only light safe and sane ones off in an area that is clear of brush or clear of any flammable materials. If it were to ignite in a grassy area, it's just going to take off, especially with the winds."

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