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Fire officials host wildfire preparation seminar

August 8, 2009 |  5:06 pm

Local residents quizzed firefighters on backyard landscaping, picked up pamphlets about fire safety and browsed booths selling protective gels for their houses Saturday at a wildfire preparedness fair in La Cañada Flintridge sponsored by the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The county has been struggling with low water levels this summer and the “Living in the Fire Zone” expo was designed to emphasize “preparation, preparation, preparation,” said Capt. Mike Brown, the department’s public information officer.

Even though the Jesusita fire in Santa Barbara in May burned over 8,700 acres and 78 homes, Brown warned, “We haven’t gotten into the thick of things yet” in Los Angeles County.

“We’ve had some starts [here] in the past few months that haven’t grown into anything,” he said. “But we haven’t had any wind events yet.”

The event was aimed at residents of so-called “urban interface” areas like La Canada, where homes are close to open land and wild brush. Firefighters shared a variety of guidelines, including keeping brush about 30 to 100 feet away from homes, and recommended carpeting backyard hillsides with vegetation such as ice plants to slow the spread of fires.

The new “Ready, Set, Go!” brochure with fire safety recommendations is also available at www.fire.lacounty.gov.

As much experience as the department has with fighting fires, firefighters can still use more help from residents in protecting their homes from wildfire, Brown said. “The potential is always out there,” he said.
The department has expos planned this summer for other parts of the county, including the Antelope Valley and Malibu.

-- Jia-Rui Chong