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Wildland fires continue to plague California, and 4th of July is here

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As of July 3rd, 2014 the number of fires this year appears headed for a new record. A record which every Californian would rather do without. Despite increased vigilance by citizens, and heightened enforcement by fire officials, California continues to see a greater than average number of wild-land fires throughout the state due to the extreme drought conditions.

Locally in the Mother Lode Foothills area, the Oak Fire was fully contained on Tuesday June 24th after being first spotted on Sunday June 22nd. Only one outbuilding was destroyed, but nerves were frayed by the drifting smoke in the area.

As reported at both MML and Cal Fire, several fires have begun, but have also been stopped as soon as possible with the hard work and prompt response by firefighting personnel.

As the Oak Fire was being extinguished on June 24th, people reported to be playing with fire started in a fire near Mountain Ranch in Calaveras County. The fire was held to only three acres in size, but the persons involved in starting the fire now face possible fines or being required to pay for the firefighting effort.

As the fire in Mountain Ranch was being extinguished on June 25th, another fire broke out on Highway 108 in Tuolumne County, just across the highway from the Sonora Wal-Mart. That fire was held to eleven acres in size by use of Air Attack resources from the Columbia Air Attack base. Smoke from the hwy 108 fire closed down the roadway for a few hours due to visibility restrictions and emergency vehicles on the highway.

The Reed Fire in Calaveras County began on June 20th and was contained on June 21st. The cause of the Reed Fire was determined to have been started by a person who was grinding bolts, near dry grass. The person in question though had cleared an area of 45 feet in diameter, which still allowed a hot bolt head to skitter away and get into a patch of dry grass. 120 acres was consumed in the Reed Fire.

June 30, 2014 a five acre fire was extinguished by Columbia Air Attack resources plus local firefighter in town of Clements in Calaveras county. No homes were lost in the Clements Fire.

With all of the fires so far reported, fought and contained this year, we're now at a peak danger time. The Fourth of July traditions in much of California includes fireworks, although in California only certified safe & Sane fireworks are allowed. The danger from even Safe & sane fireworks seems likely to be far greater this year, despite several counties banning even Safe & Sane fireworks.

It appears that it will be up to every resident in the state to be more careful than usual, and use extreme caution if fireworks are being used. Shall we all just say a prayer, send out good vibes or hope for the best on this long weekend that no fire gets out of control the way the Rim Fire did last year?

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