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Drought-Free After Wet Winter, California Still Braces For Difficult Fire Season

(KPIX 5) -- Even with the state's drought declared over, Cal Fire is bracing for a worse-than-average fire season this summer.

"The feds, their intel, is telling us in the Bay Area we'll have a greater-than-normal, significant fire potential because of the very large grass crop that we have," said Division Chief Jim Crawford.

A wet winter and mild spring have produced a sea of grass blanketing hillsides and valleys across the Bay Area. Once it dries out, it will become potential fuel for wildfires during the summer months, said Crawford.

That's already beginning to happen. In Gilroy Thursday, Cal Fire crews responded to a small grass fire along Highway 152 that spread to a nearby grove of Eucalyptus trees.

"We're mowing and scraping in between the grape vines," said resident James Fahey, who operates a small family-owned vineyard near the fire. "We also have a sprinkler systems in place in case there is a fire."

Cal Fire is urging homeowners to take precautions to reduce their risk, such as creating defensible space around their home and preparing an evacuation plan.

"It really is a matter of the public providing the defense so we can provide the offense," said Crawford. "The more work that the public can do to remove fuels from around homes, provide defensible space, be ready for an evacuation those are the things that help us."

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