Watch CBS News

California Drought Hampering Firefighting Efforts As Water Sources Go Dry

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California's extreme drought has made firefighting efforts in the state, prompting concerns there could be not enough water to fight some fires.

The question arose after watching video of a fire handled by the California Office of Emergency Services where the agency said this summers Eiler Fire grew when a Shasta County town ran out of water.

"Helicopters are dipping out of ponds, creeks, rivers, wherever they can get it," Cal OES Chief Kim Zagaris said, "and in years past there was some more water in those areas. This year there's not as much."

When they ran out of water, the structures continued to burn.

"If we don't have water to drink with we surely aren't going to have enough to fight fire with," he said.

Cal Fire's Lynne Tolmachoff didn't disagree on that point.

"We are having to send a helicopter a couple more miles away to find a better water source," she said. "They have to have about 5 to 6 feet of water in order to drop that bucket in to get it to fill."

But, Cal Fire says one way or another, they've found resources to put fires out.

"We will either bring in more aircraft or we will bring in portable water resources such as bringing in water tenders or portable tanks," she said.

But Zagaris says he's already seeing some of the worst fire conditions in his 37-year career, and worries about the rest of the fire season.

"Some areas are a little better than others but ultimately, we've got to keep an eye wherever we go and be very concerned," he said.

In the past, he says if they took water from nearby residents, they would either pay them back for it, or return the water once the fire was out. More people this year are choosing to take the water instead of money.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.