End of Drought Signals Beginning of Wildfire Season in Southern California

For firefighters, the end of the five-year drought is not necessarily good news. Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Gustavo Medina says that the brush that did not burn last year during the fire season is still there. Consequently, there is still vegetation ready to burn. The dead underbrush plus new growth (green shrubs and grasses) are fuel for wildfires. Gustavo adds that adding heat and winds to the existing fuel combination is a recipe for disaster. Accordingly, Los Angeles County, Cal Fire and other fire departments from Imperial, San Bernadino, Riverside and Orange counties all announced the commencement of the fire season on Monday.Medina says that news on the start of the fire season was driven home when several fires broke out in Walnut, Diamond Bar, and San Dimas during the press conference. As such, the fire season has started sooner than earlier on anticipated. Given that the fires were small, they were quickly put out before they caused any structural damage.Wildfire Season PreparationThe Los Angeles County Fire Department is, however, ready for the fire season with eight helicopters on standby. The department is also looking forward to the addition of a snorkel helicopter in July. This helicopter is equipped to suck up water through a long pipe from either a lake or reservoir. Additionally, come September until the end of the fire season, the fire department will have access to two super scooper planes. These fixed-wing aircraft skim water off the surface of a reservoir before dropping it on the fires below.Despite adequate preparation for the fire season, fire departments are concerned with the complacency of homeowners since the end of the drought. By last weekend, the heat and Santa Ana winds had already caused wildfires in Santa Clarita and Castaic.Homeowners on AlertMedina warns homeowners who have been affected by wildfires in the past to prepare themselves. Wildfires are experienced in areas such as San Gabriel, Santa Monica, and San Bernadino where high winds and dry brush are present with each passing year. The Los Angeles Fire Department is closely watching areas such as the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, and the Malibu hills and canyons since wildfires tend to occur wherever there are mountains and foothills.Residents in regions prone to wildfires are advised to clear brush around them but not to take out chaparral and trees that are fire resistant. If one completely clears an area, more inflammable, invasive grass may grow. Additionally, residents in these areas should also trim any trees hanging over their rooftops to prevent fire embers from flying onto their roofs.



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