The Hillsides Are A Ticking Timebomb!

by David DeMullé

The great white heron foraged in waist-high oats and foxtails in a weedy haven among expensive hillside homes. But to Los Angeles Fire Inspectors, one heron’s buffet becomes a growing time bomb of tinder during the driest season on record in Los Angeles.

“What I always want to look for is where the fire is headed, where is it going to go, straight up into that pine tree, into that house; when the wind blows, off it goes.” Brush has become so dry due to lack of rain that conditions now approximate the height of summer, fire prevention officials say.

Not even the cloudy skies and possible rain expected to move over Southern California are expected to hydrate the grass and brush that become easy kindling for neighborhood fires.

Los Angeles, with 4.27 inches of rain this season, is just over a quarter-inch drier than the record driest year of 1960-61: a mere 4.56 inches. Normal rainfall for downtown L.A. between July 1 and June 30 is 13.94 inches. Firefighters got a bit of a brush fire scare Thursday but were able to take care of the problem quickly. Crews doused a one-acre brush fire near the Hansen Dam Monday around 6 p.m.

There were no reports of injuries and no homes were threatened, but there were a lot of people enjoying the basin when the fire started. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

To avoid the firestorms like those that once engulfed our mountains a couple of years ago, the fire department is asking residents this spring to be especially diligent about brush clearance.

Every time we have a rain, no matter how limited, the weeds spring to life, and then die. All residents are asked to maintain a 200 foot “Brown Zone” around their houses. If the job is too big, there are many local brush clearance companies that do the work for you. One such local business is Aper’s Tree and Brush Service of Tujunga.

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