Fire season officially began last week, with state, county and city officials asking homeowners to keep hazardous dead brush and grass cleared from their houses.
"We had relatively few major wildland fires during 1983 and 1984 because of unusual summer weather conditions," Regional Chief Rex Griggs of the California Department of Forestry said.
"A return to our normal hot, dry and windy conditions will again cause major wildland fires to destroy valuable watershed areas and personal property throughout Southern California."
First Contingent on Duty
The first contingent of seasonal firefighters, hired and trained by the California Department of Forestry during the winter, have been moved into rural fire stations to wait for the inevitable rash of fires.
County Fire Chief John Englund said he expects dead brush and plants to cause greater fire hazards this year.
To combat the problem, the County Fire Department plans to hire more seasonal employees who will work in areas not usually staffed on a 24-hour basis in the winter. The department also will be placing special emphasis on inspections to ensure that vegetation is cleared away from homes.
The city Fire Department has also reminded 100,000 property owners in the Mountain Fire District to clear brush.