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Region Sees Warning For Dire Fire Season

Hot temperatures already, significant lack of rainfall this past winter … and plenty of winds.

It’s all a recipe for summertime disaster.

“All the predictions are pretty dire as we would expect in a drought year,” Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District Chief Rick Mello admitted on Monday, as the region is approaching what likely will be a busy fire season. “We will go through this drought during the Fourth of July; we definitely hope that people don’t use illegal fireworks.”

Even now, the chief noted, anything from the careless disposal of a cigarette to a spark from a lawn mower used in the heat of the day can cause problems.

“Be very cautious mowing,” Mello warned. “That’s an early morning thing, something you should do when the heat is down and the fuel moisture is up.”

Four firefighters from Escalon, volunteer David Escove and reserves Ron Gur, Colt Parshall and Louis Roach, have started their work with CalFire, joining that team as seasonal employees.

“Their regular schedule is three days a week, 72 hours, when fires start they could ultimately be there 24-7,” Mello said.

That, in turn, sees Escalon start up its seasonal program, where they bring in a volunteer or reserve to serve as the third person on a shift, with A, B and C shifts rotating through the local fire station.

“That will be starting on Memorial Day weekend,” Mello explained.

Seven new personnel are going to be filling those roles on the different shifts for the summer.

Three new volunteers gearing up to take on shifts with the department are Mark Bennet, Kaden Christensen and Alonzo Teixeira.

Four reserves are Andrew Hardman, Quentin Muncy, Nathan Rodriguez and Joshua Stubbert.

“Muncy is a returning experienced reserve,” Mello pointed out. “They are still completing the remainder of the training, they are very close to completing that and they will all be part of the seasonal solution for us as well.”

Along with reminding residents to be mindful of their surroundings and actions, Mello said it is also wise to create some defensible space around your home and do needed weed abatement. He also said people need to be smart in terms of getting on the river, utilizing life jackets and common sense.