The Fire That Wouldn't Have Happened If There Wasn't A Drought

(FOX 11) As of 5 p.m. Monday, the "Highway Fire" in Riverside County was 35 percent contained and had charred 1,020 acres.

Firefighters said the good news was that no homes were threatened, no one was hurt fighting the fire that began Saturday, and there has been no loss of animal life in the wildlife refuge.

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What's interesting is that the fire never would have happened had it not been for the drought, according to authorities.

Campers who started it with their unattended cooking fire camped in a wetlands lakebed, dried out by the drought. Had conditions been normal, the lake would have been filled with water -- and they couldn't have camped there.

Cal Fire Captain Liz Brown said "potentially" it could be a rough fire season. She emphasized the word "potentially" because she didn't want to cry wolf, but stressed that conditions are ripe for trouble.

Brown said that's why everyone needs to do their part to help firefighters.

Cutting grass around properties leaving defensible space is very important, Brown added. It's equally important that people are packed and ready to leave if fires get too close to their homes.

But what about fires started by campers? Brown said campers should be aware of their surroundings and make sure to find out if fires are permitted or if their use has been suspended.

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