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Fire officials to Southern California: Get ready for daily and ‘difficult’ wildfire calls

Thursday, June 14, 2018  
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Southland fire officials issued dire warnings Thursday about the upcoming fire season, saying they are preparing for daily outbreaks of vegetation blazes and calling on residents to act now to clear brush around homes and other structures.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby and fire officials from the Inland Empire to Orange County also reminded residents that they need to do their part to prevent fires from erupting.

“Over 90 percent of wildland fires are created by humans,” Osby said.

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He said dry conditions and warm weather will likely mean daily brush fire calls, with blazes potentially scorching hundreds of acres at a time over the next month, and even larger beginning in July.

“In the months of July and September, as our fuels begin to dry, we are expecting to have fires from 1,500 acres to 5,000 acres, and that includes no wind,” Osby said. “Typically around September-October is when we start Santa Ana wind events in Southern California.”

Osby said the county expects to again have heavy-duty firefighting aircraft available beginning in mid-August, when the Erickson Skycrane water-dropping helicopter will be put in service locally. On Sept. 1, SuperScooper aircraft from Canada will arrive.

Thom Porter, chief of the southern region for Cal Fire, said that active fire seasons should now be considered normal in California.

“We are expecting a very active season,” he said. “This one has started out at least as active as last season was, as far as number of acres burned. To date, we’re ahead of our five-year average statewide. We’ve had more incidents than our five-year average to date, and it’s shaping up to be another very difficult fire season for all of us.”

Last year was bad enough, with the Thomas fire in Ventura County consuming one of the largest areas on record in California — 440-square-miles. By comparison, the city of L.A. is about 500 square miles. But the fires didn’t stop there. They included the Creek fire in northern San Fernando Valley; the Skirball fire, just off the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles; the Canyon fire in Orange County; and the Fallbrook fire in Riverside County.

Already this year, homes were threatened by thePortola fire, in Beverly Hills; the Euclid fire near Chino; and theSouth fire in Santa Clarita.

Osby and Porter said residents need to do their part, not only to prevent fires, but to clear as much brush as possible to help stop fires in their tracks and prevent them from reaching structures.

“You as citizens all need to be prepared,” Porter said. “You need to do the things that you need to do to provide the defense so we can provide the offense.”

In Kagel Canyon, where the Creek fire burned, Nico Bally was still rebuilding a wood shop at his spared property. He’s among residents who faced the ravages of the Creek fire last year who offered a word of advice to homeowners about brush clearance, and the need to be prepared.

“If you saw that wall of fire that came at us … every lot matters,” he said.

LA Daily News City Editor Ryan Carter contributed to this story.

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Spring is upon us and summer will be here before we know it.  Precipitation is lighter than normal and that could mean a heavy fire season is on the horizon. Agencies are in various stages of preparing their organizations for the potential that lies ahead...Continue Reading

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