Winter wildfires show Californians at risk year-round

Firefighters call this our new reality: The traditional California fire season has come and gone and yet here we are, watching winds whip up the Colorado Fire near Big Sur.

"We now have conditions where we have a thousand acres burning on the coast in January after some record-breaking rainfall. So if this is not the clearest picture, yet that conditions in California are year round, I don't know what would be," says Deputy Chief Jonathan Cox of Cal Fire.

The National Weather Service Bay Area says that long term drought is acting like a chronic illness.

In a tweet they call this fire behavior, "surreal."

"When something doesn't happen frequently, it kind of makes you get this unsettled feeling of I thought we left this season behind, I thought we could focus on rain. Because that is the hope," says David King, Meteorologist with NWS Bay Area.

For Cal Fire, there's already been a shift in mentality. A few years ago they wouldn't have had wild land engines staffed year round, now they do.

"In San Mateo County we have two wild land engines that are staffed year round. In Santa Cruz County there's five. That is something that is evolving because of the fire threat. And it really pays off in instances like this," says Cox.

And this year's California budget proposal has millions set aside to fund 20 more state fire crews.

Cal Fire says conditions have changed, and we need to change too.

SEE ALSO: Hundreds evacuated as fire burns near California’s Big Sur

"If we've learned anything over the last three years, we've kind of come to realize that fire season is year round. We can't say the word season anymore, right. California is just predisposed to burning," says Cox.

Cal Fire says if they're thinking about fire year round, so should you. They recommend clearing defensible space around your home and planning escape routes. They say there's no time like the present to prepare.