Mary Clark lives in a quiet neighborhood on the south side of Thousand Oaks. The view on Hillsborough Street is spectacular, with the homes literally built in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. But, Clark says this time of year the mountains can also be frightening, because the dense vegetation creates the potential for dangerous brush fires.
Summer may be almost over, and cooler temperatures may be coming, but with the possibility of Santa Ana and sundowners winds on the South Coast, we are moving into one of the most dangerous times of year.
Captain Ken VanWig Is a Vegetation Management Specialist with the Ventura County Fire Department. Vanwig says brush is much drier than average for this time of year. Adding to that is the concern over strong sundowner and Santa Ana Winds which hit the South Coast in October and November.
Vanwig says even areas stripped bare by the Thomas Fire in December and January are at risk, because some light brush has grown back which could then burn into thicker, old growth.
We used to talk about brush fire “season,” but firefighters say the reality in California now is that they can occur anytime during the year. For instance, the Thomas Fire started in early December, and burned into January.
In 2017, 1.3 million acres of land burned statewide, and 10,000 structures were destroyed. This year could be even bigger, with the Mendocino Complex Fire alone charring 459,000 acres.
Firefighters say as we move into the next critical few months, those who did required brush clearance in the spring should review it. In some cases, the brush grew back, and then dried out during the summer, creating new hazards which needed to be removed. And, they say people should make sure they have a family plan in case it becomes necessary to evacuate.