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Central Coast experts explain why California suffers growing number of wildfires each year

Three major wildfires in California have burned more than 200,000 acres and scorched thousands of structures. Experts say the catastrophic flames are becoming the new norm.

This year, CAL FIRE San Luis Obispo has responded to about 15,000 incident calls thus far. In 2010, the agency received 6,500.

KCOY 12 Meteorologist Jason Stiff explained why the fire danger has multiplied over the last few years.

“We’ve just had way too many dry years. We have a lot of dry fuel on the ground. And recently, with warmer than average temperatures as well as very strong wind in Ventura County, Los Angeles County. Also with the Santa Ana winds developing and persisting as well.”

CAL FIRE SLO spokesman Clint Bullard said topography and changing weather trends are also tough for firefighters out on the front line.

“When you throw in steep, hilly terrain higher temperatures during the day, low temperatures at night, it all creates a very challenging situation to get in and put these fires out.”

Firefighters are constantly battling other obstacles – injuries.

“Twisted ankles – you’re talking very steep terrain on most of these fires. Heat exhaustion is very common. You’re carrying a lot of weight out there working 24 hours, 72 hours straight sometimes.

Bullard said a strike team from CAL FIRE SLO down at the Woolsey fire worked three days non-stop on the front line.

Experts cited humans as another major cause of recent fires. The Carr fire in Sonoma County earlier this year was sparked when a truck blew out its tire.

Officials reminded homeowners to take more precautions, as well.

“Take those steps to create defensible space,” Bullard said.

On Sunday, Governor Jerry Brown requested a “Major disaster declaration” from President Donald Trump. The move would bolster ongoing emergency assistance and help residents recover from the fires.

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