Southland fire officials issued dire warnings Thursday about the upcoming fire season, saying they are preparing for daily outbreaks of vegetation blazes and calling on residents to act now to clear brush around homes and other structures.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby and other fire officials also reminded residents that they need to do their part to prevent fires from erupting.
“Over 90 percent of wildland fires are created by humans,” Osby said.
He said dry conditions and warm weather will likely mean daily brush fire calls, with blazes potentially scorching hundreds of acres at a time over the next month, and even larger beginning in July.
“In the months of July and September, as our fuels begin to dry, we are expecting to have fires from 1,500 acres to 5,000 acres, and that includes no wind,” Osby said. “Typically around September-October is when we start Santa Ana wind events in Southern California.”
Osby said the county expects to again have heavy-duty firefighting aircraft available beginning in mid-August, when the Erickson Skycrane water-dropping helicopter will be put in service locally. On Sept. 1, SuperScooper aircraft from Canada will arrive.
Thom Porter, chief of the southern region for Cal Fire, said that active fire seasons should now be considered normal in California.
“We are expecting a very active season,” he said. “This one has started out at least as active as last season was, as far as number of acres burned. To date, we’re ahead of our five-year average statewide. We’ve had more incidents than our five-year average to date, and it’s shaping up to be another very difficult fire season for all of us.”
Osby and Porter said residents need to do their part, not only to prevent fires, but to clear as much brush as possible to help stop fires in their tracks and prevent them from reaching structures.
“You as citizens all need to be prepared,” Porter said. “You need to do the things that you need to do to provide the defense so we can provide the offense.”