RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — As Summer quickly approaches the moderately dry region of Southern California, Cal Fire began its annual increase of staff in Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties Monday.

The increase in firefighting personnel will help the state agency’s preparations to be ready to battle blazes and provide staff for the majority of its seasonal fire stations around the clock, as well as have water-dropping helicopters standing by, according to officials.

In addition, Cal Fire will reportedly start staffing its air tankers around Southern California next week.

The results of a recent snow survey from the Department of Water Resources has raised concern among Cal Fire officials for wildfire hazards, as a lack of rain between January and March across the state may be recorded as the driest evern in northern Sierra Nevada, with only five and a half inches since the new year.

As fire season has officially started in Southern California, Cal Fire is urging homeowners to make certain that they are prepared for wildfires and that every home has 100 feet of brush-free “defensible space”.

The agency is also asking residents to clear pine needles and fallen leaves from their roofs, eaves, and rain gutters. Branches should also be trimmed six feet from the ground, according to officials.

Any trimming, mowing, and outdoor power equipment use is advised to take place before 10 a.m.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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