State fire officials warned that drought conditions across California mean a likely early start to fire season and are urging rural property owners to clear high grass, weeds and other combustible materials around their homes and businesses.

Cal Fire is already sending inspectors out to educate rural property owners about their responsibility under state and local codes, which require them to clear combustible plants and materials around buildings and, in unincorporated areas, maintain 100 feet of so-called "defensible space."

That means ensuring weeds, wild grasses and brush are mowed, low tree branches trimmed, dead vegetation cleared from the ground and needles and leaves cleaned from roofs, eaves and rain gutters.

Normally, Cal Fire initiates the campaign at the end of April.

"The extreme dry conditions have made this more important this year," said Cal Fire spokesman Dennis Mathisen. "We don't want people to wait for the inspectors. The time to clear is now."