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The Drought and Fire Danger

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Dry Brush

With watering restrictions in place across the state – two days a week in Los Angeles, just one day at week in Calabasas and Agoura,  residents are concerned about the fall out effects of the drought and fire danger.

Those impacted by the Woolsey Fire are particularly concerned, given the dry brush on the hillsides and the dying vegetation in their own yards.

Are their homes at greater risk? Will there be enough water to fight any fires this summer?

No and yes, says LA City Fire spokesman Brian Humphrey.

According to Humphrey, homeowners must maintain the same level of defensible space around their homes, even if it requires “some more maintenance.” 

“As far as the city is concerned there are no exceptions.  Homeowners must control the dead and dying vegetation and keep it away from their homes,” he said. Dead and dry lawns must be maintained or excavated, extra brush removed.

“This is not the first drought we’ve had,” said Humphrey. “It’s a matter of common sense. We urge people to look at their homes for fire hazards – abandoned vehicles, dead brush within 200 feet of the home,  cars parked on lawns, etc.”

As to fire-fighting itself, Humphrey offered assurances there would be enough water supply to fight Southern California fires. He explained that the fire department uses less water than you might imagine. “A lot of our work in wildfires is with hand tools, establishing perimeters.”

He said the fire department is also working to conserve water, using less in training and using water smartly.

“As long as you have tap water still running, hydrants are still working. They won’t run dry at this time.”

With regards to local water supplies that were used during the Woolsey Fire for fire fighting helicopters, such as Westlake lake and the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District’s Reservoir, Humphrey said, “we don’t expect them to go dry. We have no concerns about the water supply – if that should change we’d issue an advisory.”

 Firebreak Protection Systems Inc., a private firefighting company, is recommending that all concerned homeowners who live in high risk areas  know and follow the “Ready, Set, Go” plan put together by fire departments.   

 Firebreak is on a 24/7 watch for wildfires. They are  employed by insurance companies to add an extra layer of protection to their clients during a major wildfire. 

They recommend that you are prepared to leave immediately.  Residents should prepare by signing up for emergency alerts, knowing evacuation routes, having a go-bag and respirator mask on hand, and readying an inside space where you can deploy an air cleaner or filter.

Firebreak’s Eddie Hosch recommends the following actions if you are notified a wildfire is nearby:

• Listen to local news and social media for reports and evacuation information

• Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape

• Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked

• Arrange temporary housing

If you are enrolled in Firebreak’s Private Wildfire Protection Services Program, they  will be monitoring your home for wildfire threats, and during a wildfire event, will be on scene checking for risks to your home and taking proper action when required. 

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