June gloom has given way to hot, dry conditions, which means the
city, particularly the hillsides, will be susceptible to brush fires
for the remainder of the summer.
About three dozen members of the Community Disaster Volunteers,
acting as arson watchers, were on patrol during Friday’s Fourth of
July festivities at Starlight Bowl.
Most were stationed around the hillside venue, where they were on
the lookout for illegal fireworks or any small fires that could have
resulted from the city’s fireworks display.
“Even though the fire department goes to great lengths to wet down
the hillside, we occasionally get hot spots,” said Deborah Shane, a
volunteer program consultant.
The volunteer fire watchers will continue to patrol the hillsides
over the next several months, when the threat of fire is greatest.
Despite some spring rain, Burbank Fire Capt. Bob Reinhardt said fire
danger is likely to grow during the summer months.
Between now and September, the only precipitation Burbank is
likely to see is occasional drizzle from low clouds, National Weather
Service Weather Specialist Stuart Seto said.
The average rainfall for July is .02 inches, and the average for
August is .18 inches, he said.
“For the next month we have an even chance of getting our usual
rainfall; unfortunately our usual rainfall this time of year is about
none,” Seto said.
In an annual attempt to decrease the potential for a devastating
fire, fire officials notified all hillside residents in April that
they must clear any brush within 100 feet of their homes. That
effort, combined with the monitoring by the volunteers, is part of
the reason the city has not lost a home to a brush fire since 1927,
While Burbank has not suffered a major brush fire in several
years, Reinhardt said that has allowed more fuel to build up.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had any big fires here, but every
year we don’t our grass gets higher and higher,” he said.
As the risk of fire grows during the coming months, Reinhardt is
asking residents who venture into the hillside to be particularly
careful with anything that could ignite the dry brush, particularly
fireworks and cigarettes.
“People need to be aware that in Southern California, brush fires
are probably our biggest threat,” he said.