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High Wildfire Season At Hand For Central, South Coasts; Firefighters Say It Could Be A Rough One

Firefighters battling the Thomas Fire in December of 2017
(KCLU photo by Lance Orozco)
Firefighters battling the Thomas Fire in December of 2017

Poor rainfall season could mean big fire problems for region

With rainfall 20% to 50% of average during the current rainfall season, firefighters are gearing up for what could be a tough high fire season in the region.

Captain Daniel Bertucelli is with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. He says the limited rainfall is creating significantly drier fuels. The Fire Department is moving to its high fire preparedness level May 3rd, which means that extra resources will be deployed on brush fire calls to try to stop fires before they surge out of control.

Two decades ago, we had a fire season, and an off season. But, wildfires like the massive Woolsey Fire, which started in November of 2018, and the Thomas Fire, which started in December of 2017, show the danger can happen anytime.

Captain Robert Welsbie, with the Ventura County Fire Department, says they are also gearing up for what could be a long summer and fall for firefighters.

Welsbie says Ventura County just sent out thousands of notices to property owners in, and adjacent to high wildfire risk areas reminding them it’s time to clear brush. Santa Barbara County is preparing to send out its notices in May.

Bertucelli says the brush clearance has been the difference between saving and losing homes in many of the region’s recent fires.

Fire Departments in the region have adopted a program called “Ready! Set! Go!” designed to get people prepared for wildfires, as well as other emergencies like earthquakes. It starts with being ready, which means having a plan. What would you grab from your home if you had only ten minutes? If you are at work, or the kids are at school, why kind of a plan of evacuation plan do you have in place?

The “Set” part of the program means if there is high fire danger, you make sure you and your family are ready. And, "Go!” means leaving when the call to leave comes, and not waiting until it's dangerous.

You can find more information on wildfire preparedness at:

Santa Barbara County:
Ventura County:

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.