Drone shot of the Panther Fire in Boulder Creek.
Drone shot of the Panther Fire in Boulder Creek.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Environment

As weather heats up, an unsettling revelation: Fuel moistures remain ‘at or near historic lows’ in Santa Cruz

Vegetation in the Santa Cruz Mountains remains extremely dry, a concerning sign for fire risk as a heat wave sweeps the state.

Cal Fire CZU reported Wednesday that live fuel moisture levels — a measure of how susceptible living vegetation is to burning — remain at or near a record low.

This news was the conclusion of sampling completed by Cal Fire in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties. Cal Fire CZU shared on Twitter that “live fuels in the unit are currently as dry as they were during July 15–Aug 1 window last year,” and the low levels “are similar to those observed during mid-June 2014 (the peak year of the 2011-2017 drought).”

The high temperatures heating up Santa Cruz County (downtown Santa Cruz hit 95 Wednesday) are expected to continue this week, with Thursday, the hottest day of the heat event, likely reaching the high 80s and low 90s in Santa Cruz. This will continue to dry out vegetation, increasing fire risk.

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