22 Jun 2008, 6:38pm
Latest Fire News
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Forest Service to beef up firefighting ranks

Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer, June 21, 2023

The fast-spreading fire that broke out Friday in Santa Cruz County has put state and federal fire officials on edge as scorching temperatures throughout California threaten to make an already-bad fire season worse.

Firefighters had barely dusted off the soot from last week’s onslaught of fires when this latest blaze raced through bone-dry grassland near Watsonville, quickly burning 500 acres and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents.

It is the latest in a series of large, destructive fires to break out in Northern California this year, prompting fears that the amount of firefighting equipment and personnel available in the state might be inadequate.

The U.S. Forest Service announced plans Friday to hire additional firefighters to deal with the dangerously incendiary conditions in California.

“We are going to hire every qualified applicant,” said Janice Gauthier, the U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman covering the 18 national forests in California.

Gauthier said the number of seasonal firefighters hired will depend on how many applicants qualify, but she said all of them would be hired next week, ahead of schedule. This last round of hires usually occurs in July, she said.

“The need has become more acute this year because we’ve experienced some early fires and it is in the forefront of people’s minds,” she said. … [more]

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