Union Democrat staff

The U.S. Forest Service is anticipating a "very active fire season" this year on the Stanislaus National Forest, where last year's Rim Fire scorched 154,000 acres.

The Forest Service said the Stanislaus National Forest's "fire danger condition" is currently set at "high." The chief reason: A lack of winter snow and rainfall has left vegetation unusually dry.

"Our firefighters know we could be looking at a very tough fire season, and they're ready to do their jobs," said Stanislaus Forest Fire Chief Chris Schow.

The Forest Service has been hiring and training firefighting personnel since March to prepare for the upcoming season. The first Hot Shot crew was brought back on duty two weeks ago, and other crews were rehired last week. Hot Shots are specially trained firefighters who battle high-priority fires, often in remote and difficult-to-access areas.

The Stanislaus Forest's two initial fire-attack dozers are ready to go and a contract with a helicopter crew based at Bald Mountain is set to begin in mid-June,according to Forest Service officials.

For the complete story, see the June 9, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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