Photo courtesy Darren Rains

NEVADA CITY, Calif. August 16, 2017 – A debris pile burning early in the morning, a fire caused by mowing around noon and an oversized camp fire in the evening. Or, as firefighters call it, Tuesday. Time for a reminder that all burn bans and fire restrictions remain in effect.

There is no open residential backyard burning aka burn piles allowed. Burn barrels, in case it slipped your mind, have been outlawed for many years. Check on the fire restrictions in your camping area when you pick up a camping permit.

The peak of high fire season is still ahead of us

Fire potential outlook

NorthOps Predictive Services have released the outlook for the remainder of the fire season: “2016-17 rainy season produced 150-300% of normal precipitation, which led to robust fine fuel crop and brush growth. Hot and dry weather since mid June has caused nearly complete curing of annual grasses and has elevated fire potential. The dry fuel conditions and warm, dry weather are anticipated to produce above normal Significant Fire Potential in many areas through August. Where there is a heavy loading of dry, fine fuels and brush, that potential will end in the Far Eastside in September, but continue into October for the valleys and foothills in Mendocino, Lake, and Shasta Counties south through the Bay Area, especially where and when the traditional fall season north-to-offshore wind events occur.”

– Robust, cured fine fuel crop below 4500′ west of the Cascade/Sierra crest and below 5500′ east of the crest

– Live fuel moisture at upper elevations near normal and dropping at a seasonable rate

– Drier and warmer than normal conditions expected Aug through Nov

– Above Normal Significant Fire Potential: Just Aug: Far East Side, Northeast CA (back to normal after Aug) Aug thru Oct: Mid Coast, Bay Area, Sacramento Valley and Foothills (back to Normal for Nov) [source: NorthOps]

Temperatures are cooling down a little, but activity levels remain high. “The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) raised the National Fire Preparedness Level (PL) to its highest point, PL-5, effective on August 10, 2017. The PL ranges from one, indicating minimal activity, to five, which signals very high activity. The last time that the National Preparedness Level was raised to 5 was on August 13, 2015. The National Preparedness Level remained at PL-5 for 24 days until it was dropped to 4 on September 6, 2015. This is the fifth time that PL-5 has been reached since 2007,” according to the National Fire interagency Center (NIFC).

For Northern California, the PL is at 4, just below the maximum level. Add to that the crowds searching for great views of the solar eclipse and you have a very high potential for new fire starts.

Please, be careful out there.

Avoid using lawnmowers or any equipment that can cause sparks.

Don’t even think about lighting your burn pile.

Check the chains before towing your trailer, if they are dragging they can cause roadside fires.