A Ventura County Air Unit helicopter dips low over a brush covered hill behind the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, dropping water near dozens of firefighters creating a fire break. It’s all for show, to raise awareness about the brush fire threat. But, firefighters on the Central and South Coasts are already starting to deal with the real thing.
Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen says while some people think our above-average rainfall season eased the brushfire threat, it’s actually helping to fuel it. It’s stimulated brush growth, even in areas recently hit by the Thomas, Hill, and Woolsey brush fires. It’s light brush, but it’s easy to ignite, and it can act as kindling to move flames into thicker, more dangerous old growth areas.
Eric Bolt is a Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. Boldt summer is always tough because of the heat. But he says what's even more difficult are the fall and early winter months, when we see strong Santa Ana and sundowner winds. The Hill and Woolsey fires in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties started in November. And, the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties started in December of 2017.
There is no longer considered to be a fire season. Firefighters say the threat is with us year round, although it is higher at times.
The message public safety agencies are trying to share about brush fires is a simple one: Be prepared. If you’re in a potential brush fire zone, clear brush and other fuels from your property. And, they say this is time to make sure you have a family evacuation plan, or review it if you already have one.