HEALDSBURG, Calif. (AP) - The threat of wildfire heightened by the state's drought has prompted CalFire to beef up its seasonal firefighting ranks ahead of schedule.
CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant tells the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that several hundred seasonal firefighters are being brought on to staff fire stations from the Sacramento foothills to San Diego County.
Berlant says additional hiring usually starts in mid-May or even early in June. But because of the dry weather, fire risk has increased and officials want to be prepared.
The newspaper says between Jan. 1 and March 22, the state firefighting agency responded to more than 800 wildland blazes. In an average year, it responds to fewer than 275 over the same period.
Starting Monday, CalFire will hire 29 firefighters in its Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit.