By Daniel Arkin
17 June 2013

(NBC News) – Southern California fire officials warned Monday that the state should take caution during a brutal fire season that projections suggest could be the worst to hit the region in a century.

“We’re going to have a very volatile fire season,” Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said at a Monday afternoon news conference, who noted it could be the worst in 100 years.

The warning comes nearly a week after a monstrous wildfire began to cut a deadly path through Colorado Springs, killing two people and destroying nearly 500 homes. The Black Forest Fire – the most destructive blaze in Colorado history – was 75 percent contained Monday.

California officials advised that projected weather conditions – a menacing mix of warm, dry Santa Ana winds and scant rainfall – may make the looming fire season similarly devastating.

A Forestry fire fighter fights a wall of fire during an out of control wildfire, 2 May 2013 in Camarillo, California. Photo: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

“Fire conditions in southern California are at levels we have not seen in many, many years,” California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott said Monday. “That is the case across all of California.”

The blazes on the forecast are expected to wreak extensive havoc across wide swaths of the state, endangering lives and natural resources, Pimlott said.

“These aren’t fires that just burn out in the forest and in the brush lands,” Pimlott said. “These are fires that directly impact the state’s natural resources and the very water that we drink and the air that we breathe.”

Officials are bracing for roughly 2,600 fires across 51,000 acres – a 75 percent increase from the annual average over the last five years, according to Pimlott. [more]

California officials warn fire season could be worst in 100 years

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