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Quiet fire season? Cal Fire says numbers might surprise you

Cal Fire official discusses 2023 wildfire season
Cal Fire official discusses 2023 wildfire season 02:54

SACRAMENTO — In recent years, each California fire season has felt progressively more active, which makes Northern California's slower 2023 season feel even quieter.

However, Cal Fire spokesperson Robert Foxworthy said, surprisingly, the total acres burned are on track to be similar to 2022.

"The numbers that we've experienced this year are generally pretty close to last year's numbers," Foxworthy said.

The numbers, he explains, are relative to where you live. While it's felt quiet for the Sacramento region, that's not the case for other parts of California. So far this year, 312,739 acres have burned and 49 structures destroyed across the state.

"I know the folks in the northwest section of the state feel like this was a busier than normal fire season," Foxworthy says. "So, if you happen to live in an area where a destructive fire occurs or your home is destroyed, this is obviously going to be the worst fire season that you've ever experienced."

Foxworthy says looking at the numbers from a long-term scale tells another story about our recent fire seasons.

"So, I think a number that's a little more interesting is compared to the five-year average. We're actually down about 1.2 million acres or so," Foxworthy said.

So what happens to unused funding and money that's not needed for slower fire seasons? Foxworthy said it rolls over to the next year and will not impact their ability to respond to an emergency.

"I think the biggest thing to let the public know is even though we had a quieter season this year and didn't spend as much as we had years in the past. That doesn't mean that next year we'll have less money to use," Foxworthy said.

Regardless of how we've fared compared to previous years, destructive fires are always possible in California. As we head into a weekend of elevated fire weather risk, Cal Fire wants people to remember a very important message.

"Even though it seems quieter than normal, or we didn't have near as many fires or structures damaged or destroyed as we've had years in the past, we still don't want people to get complacent," Foxworthy said. "If it's one acre and happens to blow an ember into your home and your home be destroyed by fire. That's going to be the worst fire season that you've ever experienced."

You can track active updates on Cal Fire's website.

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