Officials to hold fire expo

LA CRESCENTA — It is not a question of if, but when the next major wildfire will occur in Los Angeles County, fire officials say. And so on Saturday, several agencies will combine to prepare residents for the inevitable. The L.A. County Fire Department has planned a “Living in the Fire Zone” expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 8 at Memorial Park in La Cañada. The event will focus on fire education and preparedness.

The expo is a collaborative effort that includes the Town Council, the Crescenta Valley Fire Safety Council and Supervisor Mike Antonovich’s office, L.A. County Fire spokeswoman Stephanie English said.

Some of the booths scheduled to be at the expo include new developments in fire retardant gel that can be sprayed on a home and nearby vegetation, pumps that allow firefighters to siphon water from pools and vent covers that can protect against embers.

The county will also be highlighting their new “Ready! Set! Go! Wildfire Action Plan,” which includes a detailed brochure on fire prevention.

“The education and information is not new, but what is new is bringing it all together in one large booklet that discusses all aspects of being prepared,” English said.

The brochure has a section that includes an evacuation checklist inspired, in part, by the fires in Australia earlier this year when more than 100 people died after choosing to stay and defend their homes, she said.

“Residents don’t appreciate how quickly fire can turn. You can’t out-drive it or outrun it. It is important that residents do everything they can to prepare before a fire then, when they are asked to leave they will be ready,” English said.

L. A. County will be joined at the expo by the Glendale Fire Department.

“It is important that residents are aware and fire wise,” said Glendale Fire Capt. Vincent Rifino.

With the continued drought and dry vegetation, the California fire season, which used to begin in October, is now year round, Rifino said, citing the Jesusita Fire that began May 5 and was contained 15 days later.

It burned 8,733 acres, destroyed about 80 homes and damaged 15 others. About 1,900 firefighters and emergency personal were on the scene, according to a Santa Barbara County report.

“It was a surprise that it was so early, but it is a continuation of what is going on in the region. We are preparing for those types of fires,” said L.A. County Assistant Fire Chief Luke Claus.

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