With wildfire season now year-round due to California's drought, officials warned residents today to be prepared as conditions will only get drier and more dangerous over the summer months.
Firefighters across the state have reported a 200 percent increase in wildland fires this year, Cal Fire Southern Region Capt. Mike Mohler said at a news conference in Pasadena.
"It's not if, it's when we're going to have that large wildfire. And what we ask you -- as firefighters, fire agencies -- is homeowners need to provide that defense so our firefighters can get in there and provide the offense," Mohler said.
Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said this is the driest he has ever seen California's wildlands.
"We haven't been this dry in decades. If I was to use one word, the situation is incendiary," Patzert said.
He said the state should not expect rain for up to six months.
"The great hope here is that the rainfall starts before the Santa Ana winds start in the fall," Patzert said.
This week, Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature approved $90 million for additional firefighting capabilities, and $13 million for the California Conservation Corps to expand fuel and vegetation management programs. There will also be another $10 million in grants available to agencies such as the Los Angeles County Fire Department, according to Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena.
"As we head into what some say will be the driest season and the potential for the worst fire season ever, summer officially begins tomorrow and we're here today to remind our neighbors and our community to get ready now," Holden said.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich said each homeowner has the duty to be a first-responder.
"So to ensure your family's safety, it's vital that each of us are prepared at home, at work, at school and at our place of worship," Antonovich said.
According to the Cal Fire's "Ready, Set, Go!" program, homeowners should:
- Create a 100-foot defensible space around homes by clearing brush and other vegetation
- Put together a Wildfire Action Plan that is familiar to all family members in advance of a wildfire
- Prepare a emergency supply kit with a three-day supply of non- perishable food and three gallons of water per person
The full list is available at readyforwildfire.org.
--City News Service