brush fires

(Ventura County Fire Department photo)

Firefighters are mopping up two brush fires in eastern Ventura County.

The first fire was discovered at about 2:45 Tuesday afternoon off of Highway 118 near Kuehner Drive.  No structures were threatened.  The fire led to some lane closures and caused some traffic backups.  About ten acres of brush burned. 

(Ventura County Fire Department photo)

Firefighters are battling a brush fire burning off of Highway 118 Tuesday near the Ventura/Los Angeles County line, on the outskirts of Simi Valley.

The fire was discovered at about 2:45 p.m. off of the highway near Kuehner Drive.  No structures are reported to be in immediate danger.  The fire has led to the closure of some lanes of the highway, leading to traffic backups.

The late season rainfall has helped push back the brush fire potential for the South Coast, and officials with a utility company say that means we may not see the need to use public safety power shutoffs in the region until at least late May.

The shutoffs are used in high brush fire danger areas during heat and wind events as a way of preventing the accidental sparking of wildfires by the power grid.   More information from Southern California Edison:  https://www.sce.com/safety/wildfire

While we are focused on the coronavirus threat on the Central and South Coasts, there’s another major public safety concern which soon could become an issue. High brush fire season is just around the corner.

A storm system moving into the Central and South Coasts could bring some heavy rain at times, but meteorologists say it won’t be powerful enough to cause issues in the region’s brush fire burn zones. We could see some light rain late Tuesday night, but the heaviest rainfall is predicted for between 4 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday.

With Santa Ana winds still creating the potential for more brush fires in Ventura County, the region has been hit by widespread public safety power blackouts.

More than 33,000 Southern California Edison customers lost service Wednesday night, and almost 99,000 have been warned they could be next for blackouts.

Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties haven’t been impacted by the current round of public safety power outages, and aren’t on the potential blackout lists being put out by Edison and PG&E.

We’re in the lull between wind events, but high brush fire potential and the possibility of some public safety power shutoffs are in the forecast for parts of the Central and South Coasts.

We’re getting a break Tuesday night and Wednesday, but Thursday and Friday have the potential for wind related brush fire problems.

Some potentially dangerous brush fire conditions could hit the Central and South Coasts this week. The biggest concern is for Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. The forecast is for a mild Santa Ana wind event through Tuesday.  Then, on Thursday and Friday, there could be much stronger wind, possibly reaching Red Flag Warning levels.

There’s a Red Flag Warning in place for southern Santa Barbara County, with potentially dangerous wind between now and Sunday. Some of the strongest wind is expected Saturday night into Sunday, with gusts from 50 to 70 miles an hour possible in the Santa Ynez Mountain range.

The governor has signed into law a bill by a state senator from Santa Barbara intended to help ensure that disaster planning efforts for the public include things like language issues. SB 160 requires counties to provide interpreters and translators for emergency communications, and to use culturally appropriate resources when developing emergency and disaster plans.

Brush fire season has become a thing of the past in California, with the potential for blazes turning into a year round thing. But, we are moving into one of the most dangerous times of year, with the combination of hot, dry winter and strong Santa Ana and sundowner winds.

Officials with Southern California Edison and PG & E met with Santa Barbara County Supervisors this week to outline one of the newest tools in efforts to reduce the threat, a program called Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

The potential for brush fires triggered by high wind conditions which can damage power lines has prompted the state’s two major suppliers to develop emergency power shutoff plans. PG & E and Southern California Edison officials will be in Santa Barbara County Tuesday to outline their guidelines for implementing shutoffs should conditions warrant in high fire risk areas.

It’s a sound we’ve heard much too often on the Central and South Coasts. It’s the sound of a brush fire churning through brush, in this case in the Goleta area, during last summer’s destructive Holiday Fire. Now, thanks to a state grant, a new effort is getting underway to reduce the future brush fire threat in one of the region’s most at-risk areas.

(Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

With the 4th of July almost at hand, firefighters on the Central and South Coasts are worried about the potential for brush fires sparked by fireworks.

Steve Swindle is with the Ventura County Fire Department. Fireworks are illegal in Ventura County, and Southern Santa Barbara County, with the exception of so called safe and sane fireworks in the City of Fillmore.

What could be the most powerful Santa Ana wind event of the year is underway in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, and that means an increased risk of brush fires in the region.

National Weather Service forecasters say we could see wind in the 50 to 70 mile an hour range in some of the mountain areas. The strongest wind is expected Monday night  into Tuesday. The potential for Santa Ana winds will remain in the forecast through the work week.

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