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September Heat Reminds Residents to be ‘Fire Ready’

With the heat on, residents in the front country hills are making sure they are “fire ready” going into one of the hottest weekends of the summer.

For weeks, many have been involved in brush clearing projects. Some of the work has been done in special districts where property owners pay an assessment. For that, brush clearing crews will help them remove old trees and shrubs. Fire officials say it has made a significant difference and reduces the chances that homes will be lost in a wildland fire.

One resident, Arthur Hubbard, says he has cleared over brush using his own tools, and feels his home has good protection. “I have been working for years with a chain saw and a weed wacker to clear 100 to 200 feet around my property,” said Hubbard. He also says fire crews have come by his Toro Canyon home to “make suggestions and walked around the property and that has been a partnership for 20 years or so.”

The critical fire conditions come as the area faces brittle conditions from three years of very low rainfall.

One resident was loading water into her car at a store and said she remembers the shortage during the Northridge earthquake.

“Everyone had cleared out the stores with water, so I always keep water around,”said Susan Contakes of Montecito. She also plans to make a special storage bin with food and emergency supplies that she can keep outside of her home in case she is forced out during a disaster.

Local fire agencies have “Ready, Set, Go” brochures to help residents with their readiness plans.

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