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CalFire said the public's willingness to clear brush around homes helps crews fight fires. (Wednesday, July 23, 2014) News10

With drought conditions across the state, there has been an increase in wildfires. From the Monticello Fire to the burning fields around Cal Expo, firefighters have been pushed to the limits this year.

"We're still seeing more fires than average," Cal Fire spokesperson Lynne Tolmachoff said. "We've definitely burned more acres than our average."

However, as bad as this fire season has been, firefighters are convinced public awareness of drought conditions and fire safety precautions have prevented additional fires.

"If the public wasn't helping us, it could definitely be a lot worse," Tolmachoff said.

Homeowners' efforts to create defensible space and clear brush around their properties has made a huge difference protecting homes.

"Sometimes our firefighters have to go out and make those quick decisions on what houses they can actually defend against wildfire and which ones that the potential's not there," Tolmachoff said.

Success at convincing people to mow lawns earlier in the day to avoid drier and windier conditions has also prevented countless fires.

In the coming weeks, everyone will need to be more careful than ever. The drought has accelerated fire season, and the most dangerous time of the year is still approaching.

"We started seeing conditions in May and June that were more indicative of July and August, and once again, now we're into July," Tolmachoff said. "We're starting to see those August and September conditions, so everything's very much ahead of schedule."

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