Grinding operations caused three fires over the past week, law enforcement officials with the Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported Friday.
The fires were:
These metal-on-metal grinding activities produce a large amount of sparks, which landed in dry vegetation and started the three fires, Cal Fire said in a news release.
State law mandates that any operation of any equipment that can produce a spark in vegetation-covered areas requires the following:
Statewide, California has experienced record-breaking low rainfall, low humidity and low fuel moisture levels, along with higher-than-normal temperatures and increased fire activity. Cal Fire opened fire season months earlier than normal, and these recent fires indicate native vegetation is much more susceptible to ignition and are burning hotter and faster than normal.
All outdoor operations need to comply with California law, Cal Fire said in a reminder. Projects should preferably be done during the early morning hours. If the project can be moved inside without the risk of starting a fire, do so. If the project can be delayed until conditions are more favorable, that is highly recommended.
As the Fourth of July approaches, Cal Fire also cautions residents about the use of fireworks. Fireworks of all types are illegal in Tuolumne County, Ebbetts Pass Fire District in Calaveras County, and the Stanislaus National Forest. Fireworks labeled “safe and sane” are legal in certain areas of Calaveras County.