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Summer is for tall cold drinks and paperbacks on the beach. Out West, it is also the season for forest fires. California officials are saying late spring rains delayed the fire season, but grass is drying out and the number of fires is rising. The fire season usually lasts until October, the California Forestry and Fire Protection Department (CDF) said.

To monitor Golden State fire activity and the work of the state's fire-fighting teams, go to www.fire.ca.gov/php/index.php. Through June 2, 1,472 fires had burned 2,239 acres in California, compared to 2,150 fires burning 13,563 acres in the same period last year. So far this year CDF has fought five named fires of 300 acres or more.

For a U.S. perspective on forest fires and fire-fighting efforts, visit geomac.usgs.gov, where the Interior Department's U.S. Geological Survey posts geospatial maps and other information. On June 11, Geomac reported 13 named fires in eight states. The USGS site let users locate nearby fires.

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