Friday, June 15, 2007

Bad fire season predicted for region

Bad fire season predicted for region
Firefighters warn residents to prepare
By Dana Bartholomew Staff Writer
Article Launched: 06/14/2007 10:54:03 PM PDT

LA CA√ĎADA FLINTRIDGE - Faced with the driest weather in history, Southern California fire chiefs warned Thursday that firefighters and residents need to brace for an especially dangerous fire season.

Fire chiefs from Ventura to San Bernardino counties stressed the need for fire training - and brush clearance.

"The most important thing the public can do is to clear their brush ... to give firefighters a fighting chance to defend their property," said Chief Doug Barry of the Los Angeles Fire Department, who met with area chiefs at a county fire station at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Fire prevention plans are being drawn from Sacramento to Southern California at the close of the driest weather season in history. Since July, Los Angeles has received a scant 3.21 inches of rain.

Wildfires, including the nearly 1,000-acre blaze that burned a quarter of Griffith Park last month, have increased from 296 from January to June last year to 2,100 in 2007.

Brush moisture levels are dropping toward critical levels throughout the region.

On Friday, a firefighting DC-10 jumbo jet will be deployed in Victorville under contract to the state to battle future blazes. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has also signed an executive order to add resources to firefighters across the state.

"We're preplanning what could happen this year in order to be ahead of the game," said Chief Bob Roper of the Ventura County Fire Department. "Our firefighters are doing training, training and more training."

Residents should not only cut back brush and flammable ornamental plants, the chiefs said, but also make evacuation plans that would include more than one route, what items to bring and where to take family pets.

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