Local firefighters are warning that the next big wildfire to threaten the Rancho Santa Fe community is not a matter of if but when. To ensure that all residents are prepared for this year’s fire season, which unexpectedly kicked off early this year in May, the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District held a community readiness meeting on July 8.
“The fuel moisture levels we’re seeing are unprecedented,” Deputy Chief Mike Gibbs said.
Sixty percent fuel moisture is considered critical and the district was below 60 percent about two-and-a-half months ago when typically those levels are seen more in September and October.
The drought plays a big role in those moisture levels and Gibbs said depending on whose research you believe, the drought has been ongoing for eight to 10 years. Gibbs said this is the first time in 100 years that most of the state is considered in extreme or severe drought conditions.
Adding to the risk of an increased fuel load for wildfire is the weather conditions. Gibbs said the April and May Santa Ana winds broke the highest-ever wind speeds for the county. Hot weather, big winds and dry brush make for a dangerous combination.
“We’re seeing more fires developing faster and rapidly,” Gibbs said. “I’m anticipating a fire season that’s very long, I don’t see a pause.”
Photo taken from the Rancho Santa Fe Fire District Twitter account, @RSF_Fire.