Monday, April 28, 2008

SB helping fight LA blaze


With temperatures on the rise again, local fire officials sent out the first brush fire strike team of the season to a staging area in the San Gabriel Mountains near Sierra Madre to battle a stubborn vegetation fire.
With more than 500 acres already scorched and only 5 percent containment, County Fire Capt. Eli Iskow said, officials are predicting the blaze in Los Angeles County will be fully contained by mid-week. More than 1,000 residents have been evacuated and firefighters are dealing with steep and rugged terrain, authorities said.

Strike Team 1521 Charlie, a mixed wildland team made up of 17 firefighters from Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Santa Barbara County, headed out at 6:23 a.m. yesterday, Capt. Iskow said.
With several small vegetation fires reported locally in recent days, he took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of making preparations for this year’s fire season.
“As you drive through the county along any of our highways, you can see that the grasses are losing their green color and are quickly turning brown,” Capt. Iskow said in a news release. “All these signs should remind us that the declaration of the 2008 fire season is close by and residents should be preparing their yards and homes.”
He said local residents should be getting close to clearing as much excess brush and vegetation as possible, as well as creating defensible space around homes.
On Thursday, fire officials will begin inspecting properties in the rural and high fire hazard areas throughout the county. Capt. Iskow said state law requires 100 feet of defensible space around homes and structures in those areas.
“Each year, hundreds of homes in rural and high fire hazard areas are lost to wildfires,” he said. “Upwards of 80 percent of those homes lost to wildfires could have possibly been saved if homeowners provided defensible space.”
Several tips for protecting homes or structures include removing all flammable vegetation within 30 feet, creating a reduced fuel zone in the remaining 70 feet by spacing trees and plants apart, and clearing all needles and leaves from roofs, gutters and eaves.
Capt. Iskow also suggested trimming branches at least 6 feet from the ground, removing branches closer than 10 feet to chimneys, and using lawn and power equipment during the cool hours of the day, before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
More information on creating defensible space and protecting homes from wildfires is available at the county fire department’s website,, or by visiting a local fire station.

No comments: