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Countywide : Firewood Sales Flare as Weather Turns

A change in the weather over the past week has stoked the firewood business in Ventura County to a roar.

“The buy is on,” said Keith Leach of Fillmore, as he loaded his flatbed truck with a cord of wood destined for a fireplace in Westlake. “Business has started up pretty good, so I’m running a little discount until mid-November.”

Like most firewood dealers in the county, Leach experienced a surge in business “just about when the time changed” from daylight saving to standard time last weekend.

He said rumors of bone-chilling weather to come may spur people to buy more wood this year. Fortunately, the supply is vast.

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In a yard near an old orange grove, Leach has a huge pile of oak, avocado, eucalyptus and citrus wood that he has been collecting since summer. And judging from the number of newspaper advertisements, there are plenty of dealers selling wood to choose from.

“There are a lot of people out there,” said Leach, who guessed that prices would go up.

Of all the types of wood, oak is the most popular because it gives off lots of heat and burns for a long time. But a moratorium on cutting oak trees in the county has made it more expensive than other varieties.

A 4-by-4-by-8-foot cord of oak goes for about $200 delivered compared with a cord of mixed wood, which can be purchased for about $130 delivered.

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Some dealers, such as Mike Cunningham of Carpinteria, say the cheaper wood is actually a better buy for residents who don’t depend on their fireplace for heat.

“Avocado is really ideal because it lights quicker and doesn’t burn too long,” said Cunningham, who has about 500 cords of the wood that he cleared from orchards around the county.


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