Fire season has begun in earnest. Large fires are burning in the coast range north of San Francisco, as well as on the Modoc plateau. Wildland firefighters are reporting that fuel moistures are unusually low because of the drought - they are seeing fire behavior that looks more like September than early July. And the forecast calls for above normal temperatures and single-digit afternoon humidities through the middle of next week - which means any little spark is potentially disastrous. Since this is Independence Day weekend, the chance of a little spark is much higher than normal. The combination of dry fuels, dry weather and crazy people makes me nervous.
Fireworks are banned in and around Auburn, but they are readily available in Rocklin and Roseville - just to the west of us. Nonprofits sell fireworks this time of year as fundraisers - and while I support many of the same causes, I can't support the method of raising money. To me, selling fireworks to the general public in the middle of the summer in a fire-prone ecosystem is INSANE! Surely none of the fireworks sold 20 miles down the road in Roseville will make it back to Auburn - right?! In a drought year, especially, you'd think firework sales would be banned. You'd (I'd) be wrong.
And so I'll spend all weekend scanning the sky for fire planes, the horizon for smoke, and the internet for news. I won't sleep well knowing that our sheep are grazing on dry forage that could disappear in an instant. While many people are traveling this weekend, my family will remain close to home - mostly because I'm a worrier. And while I'll relax a bit when this heat wave breaks and the Fourth of July weekend is over, I won't be comfortable until the autumn rains put an end to this fire season.