NATOMAS (CBS13) – California firefighters are gearing up and deploying in strategic areas during this week’s red flag warning.

State officials say they have crews covering the ground in places like Lake and Colusa counties. Meanwhile, others are keeping an eye to the sky for flames and smoke at fire watch towers.

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Hot temps, low humidity and gusty winds in May make for a catastrophic combination for firefighters.

“It’s not as predictable as it used to be,” said Diana Swart, a spokesperson for the Cal Fire Amador-El Dorado Unit.

The agency is referring to a time when nighttime firefighting gave way to favorable conditions.

A study shows hotter, drier nights mean there is no moment for firefighters to slow the spread of flames – let alone catch their breath.

Data shows night fires have become 7.2% more intense between 2003 to 2020 around the world.

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For the western U.S., it is 28%.

“As the atmosphere has gotten warmer, it’s sucking more moisture out of the vegetation,” said Dr. Matthew Hurteau, a biology professor at the University of New Mexico.

Furthermore, the region is now seeing the real-time effects of a dry winter, says the forest and fire ecologist.

“The snowpack was poor this year,” said Dr. Hurteau. “The fire season is going to be longer.”

Meanwhile, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services is pre-positioning crews in key areas across Northern California.

“That gives us more attack power when a fire first starts,” said Brian Marshall, Cal OES Fire and Rescue Chief. “When they’re small, it’s easier to put out.”

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The chief tells CBS13 deployment includes seven fire engines that will be working around the clock until the red flag warning lifts.

Shawnte Passmore