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California flooding could lead to fires

March 1, 2005 at 3:06 PM

LOS ANGELES, March 1 (UPI) -- California's record-breaking rainfall this winter has raised the likelihood of a more-than-usual number of grass fires this summer, officials said.

The record rainfall will promote the rapid growth of grass and vegetation that can cause a severe wildfire season, the Los Angeles Daily News reported Tuesday.

"Even with all the rain and all the mud, in a few months you'll have a potential for catastrophic grass fires," said Los Angeles Fire Department Inspector Michael Henley. "To see an increased fuel load always makes firefighters nervous."

Los Angeles has recorded its third-wettest rainy season on record, receiving more than twice the normal rainfall. Firefighters say local brush has already sprouted as high as 2 feet in some places, and could jump to more than 5 feet by spring.

"We'll have a lot of grass fires, for sure," said Jim Wright, chief of fire protection with the California Department of Forestry. "Grass dries out quickly. Grasses are easy to ignite."

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