California's fifth year of drought is killing trees faster than in any of the previous four years - a time when officials say more than enough lumber to build 1 million three-bedroom houses was lost.

The drought, which threatens agriculture and is prompting water restrictions, also caused the loss of about 10 billion board-feet of timber on federal, state and private lands in 1989 and 1990, said Don Perkins, the state Department of Forestry's pest management chief.He said that equals about 10 million average-size trees.

Officials said the tree kill will likely increase this year, but they don't know by how much. But 6 billion board-feet were reported lost last year, compared with 800 million board-feet during a normal year.