Wildfire rages well after fire season ends

4:45 PM, Dec 17, 2013   |    comments
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A late season wildfire near Big Sur on Pheiffer Ridge has put fire fighters on high alert.

The typical California fire season runs from mid-May thru mid-November. During that time frame, staffing is increased and resources are added to the fire fighting arsenal. Cal Fire spokesperson Dennis Mathisen said fires happen during this time of year, but they are not typical.

"I don't have historical data, how many fires have happened in December, but by now we are in winter preparedness mode," Mathisen explained.

Dry weather conditions and even drier terrain makes for a hazardous combination in the Los Padres National Forest. Since Jan. 1, only 7.27 inches of rain has fallen at the Big Sur Ranger Station, which is 16 percent of normal.

When the Big Sur fire started late Sunday, windy conditions played a big role. The wind, traveling from the northeast at 10 mph, had gusts up to 13 mph. Also, conditions have been dry, with humidity levels in the teens and overnight recoveries in the 30 percent range.

An approaching low pressure system will give fire fighters some relief Tuesday night through Wednesday afternoon. The winds will shift to an onshore flow, bringing in cooler air and increasing humidity.

Once the system moves in, conditions will change again, with the return of the dry, gusty northerly winds.

Mathisen said until there is significant rain in the areas, fires could pop up anywhere across the state because of the dry conditions.


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