On the heels of its driest winter on record, Southern California faces an uphill battle this fire season. Conditions such as dry vegetation, low humidity and high winds, have residents and Firefighters alike, on edge, as they prepare for a longer fire season than usual.
It is still early June, but in Los Angeles County alone, there have already been two major fires this year. Last month, a wildfire scorched over 800 acres in Griffith Park. Just a few days later, an inferno broke out on Catalina Island, consuming nearly 5,000 acres before it was contained.
In Los Angeles, a typical winter brings approximately 15 inches of rain, however, to date, rainfall in the area remains at just above three inches. With less than 25% of the normal rainfall since October 1, 2006, the region is a tinderbox, waiting to ignite. Exacerbating the fire threat, are the multiple winter freezes this year that killed underbrush, drastically increasing the amount of dead fuel ready to burn.
As if Mother Nature werenâ€™t enough to contend with, Southern California Firefighters received another blow this week, when the United States Air Force grounded an entire fleet of C-130 planes. The fire-fighting tankers played an integral part in battling wildfires in recent years, but are old and outdated. The Air Force replaced the planes, however the new planes are not compatible with the old fire equipment, and wonâ€™t be of use until next year, when the new parts arrive.
This setback has forced Firefighters to stretch their time and resources even further this season. Saving lives is their main concern and officials are encouraging homeowners to protect their property. In fact, California law (PRC 4291) requires property owners and/or occupants to create a minimum of 100 feet of defensible space around their homes and buildings; this means clearing vegetation and debris up to 100 feet immediately surrounding the property. But, Homeowners arenâ€™t the only ones who need to be proactive this season. Barbeques and bon fires, can burn out of control and should always be supervised and properly extinguished. Even a spark from a cigarette can ignite dry brush, so Smokers should take care to dispose of cigarettes in the appropriate receptacles. And we all share the responsibility of reporting suspicious persons or activities to the proper authorities, to report Arson, call the Arson Hotline at (800) 468-4405.
Officials are doing more than just warning citizens about wildfire hazards. Governor Schwarzenegger has contracted the DC-10 Supertanker for full-time use during this fire season. The DC-10, which is commercially owned, can drop up to 12,000 gallons of water or retardants in eight seconds and is based in Victorville, California. Since taking office, Governor Schwarzenegger has increased Fire Protection spending by 21% and has provided a supplementary $150 million in funding. Additionally, CALTRANS will expedite weed clearance along fire-prone highways, including the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass, California 118 in Northridge, the Pasadena Freeway near Mount Washington, the 210 Freeway in Sylmar and Sunland and the Ventura and Glendale freeways in Eagle Rock.
For more information on fire prevention and safety, please visit:
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Copyright © 2010 Phoenix
All Fired Up
Copyright © 2010 Phoenix
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