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Time running out to create defensible space, new wildfire outlook grim for San Diego

Posted at 4:08 PM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 20:35:33-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Firefighters on alert after seeing the latest Wildland Fire Potential Outlook maps released by the National Interagency Fire Center.

The maps show San Diego with an above average wildfire potential that increases from June through August and starts to wane slightly in September.

Cal Fire Public Information Officer Thomas Shoots said the outlook focuses on three things; "We're dealing with fuel, weather and topography."

Shoots said the agency can't do anything about the topography or weather, but every neighbor can do their part reducing fuel, especially around their home.

RELATED: How to prepare defensible space around your home

Shoots acknowledged the winter weather gave San Diego County a reprieve fire-wise, but it posed a new problem: new growth that's already drying out.

"A grass fire can run a lot faster and spread faster which means our resources are spread out quicker, and then that means it has the heat and momentum to build up to the bigger fuels," Shoots said.

Just down the road, a neighbor had landscapers pruning her yard.

"I think it's very important to have this done...helps the whole neighborhood," said the woman named Gene.

Cal Fire said the best time to get the landscaping work done is before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

Last week, neighbors in Rancho Santa Fe saw the danger become a reality when Cal Fire said a landscaping crew using the lawn mower sparked a 3-acre fire near Fairbanks Ranch.

"It's starting to get to the point where it's too late; we need you to clear while we have the chance," Shoots said, referring to hot weather making these incidents more likely.

"We need all the help we can get," he said.

"Definitely, they've got a lot of work ahead of them, I think," Gene said.

Cal Fire reported this year to June 16th, there have been 1,386 fires, burning 11,954 acres across the state. Last year at the same time, it was about half that, 2,154 fires, burning 20,791 acres. Cal Fire says fires are becoming more common, with 248 wildfires over the past week.