SAN FRANCISCO — California’s worst drought in decades is feeding what may become a devastating wildfire season, one that is starting about five months early.

Extremely dry conditions have sparked 487 wildfires so far in 2014, compared with only 2 for the same period a year ago, according to the state Forestry and Fire Protection Department, known as Cal Fire. Potential power failures, home losses, lost tourism dollars and crop damage could jeopardize the world’s 10th largest economy as California struggles to emerge from the deepest recession since the 1930s.

“Having this occur statewide is unprecedented, certainly in my career,” Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott, who started out as a firefighter almost 30 years ago, said in a telephone interview last week. “We anticipate the potential for a very long and sustained fire season throughout the rest of the year.”

Fires could damage critical power lines and cause blackouts, disrupt water supplies and destroy sensitive ecosystems, said Bill Stewart, a forestry specialist at the University of California at Berkeley.

Last year, prolonged dry conditions led to the third-largest fire in California’s history. The “Rim Fire” shut power lines and hydroelectric generators, charred parts of Yosemite National Park and threatened the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir watershed, which supplies 85 percent of the drinking water to San Francisco.

Fires could even pose a risk for the state’s $22 billion wine industry. In 2008, smoke from smoldering wildfires in Mendocino County contaminated crops of pinot noir grapes, said Bill Pauli, a grower and general partner of Yokayo Wine Company in Ukiah, Calif.

“Some wines had the odor of someone who had been standing next to a barbecue,” Pauli said in a telephone interview. “It was not a good situation and we all hope it doesn’t happen again.”

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