L.A. County Getting Ready for Brush Fires

This year's brush fire season has, thus far, seen ther same number of fires compared to the previous brush fire season, but that could change due to the windy months of September, October and November, according to an LosAngeles County fire official.

"Right now we are at an average ... no more, no less," said Capt. Elvin Miranda of Fire Station 82 in La Cañada Flintridge. "We've been able to keep them [brush fires] small because temperatures haven't been as hot as usual."

Though fires have not been as evident as those two summers prior, which scorched San Diego and gave the air a yellowish tint due to the amount of ash in the air, the dangers of more brush fires are still a possibility with the upcoming Santa Ana winds prevalent from September to November.

The brush fire season, which starts in May and ends in November, can vary depending on three factors: fuel (brush), weather and topography (the landscape) said Miranda.

The wind can dry out brush fires and any moist vegetation within a day where as fuel will catalyze a fire. Topography, such as an uphill slope in a landscape, can make brush fires travel faster and burn with more intensity.

Fire stations today use weather forecasting technology to help battle the elements of a brush fire.

"What we [firefighters] do is we have weather stations throughout the county and we measure fuel moisture and relative humidity ... we measure the wind once everyday to predict the weather the next day," said Miranda.

Still, there are greater threats to the start of a brush fire than geographical features and the weather: people. "Most of them [brush fires] are man-made errors," said Miranda. "Ninety percent of them are man's poor choices that they make."

Most fires have started from people throwing their cigarettes out of their window on the freeway, a poorly installed exhaust pipe dragging on the road and even garden tools causing sparks in a yard or a field, said Miranda.

"Homeowners can protect their homes by cutting down any weeds or dry vegetation and creating a defensible space where a fire cannot spread," said Capt. Bill Lynch of the Glendale Fire Department. "Insure your roofs and gutters are clear of dry debris," he said.

"People should not have any open flames in the whole valley area. No open flames, no camp fires in this open area," said Miranda. If people are unaware of how to use garden tools or any other type of machinery they should find a professional in order to prevent a fire hazard, he said

For more information on brush fires or how to prevent fires, visit www.


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