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Fire Season Changes to Winter Status but More Water Rescues Could be Ahead

Firefighters are changing into a winter mode after a high risk wildfire season following four years of drought.

That means there could be more water rescues, and fires related to winter heating units.

Santa Barbara County Public Information Officer Mike Eliason says homes with chimneys should be checked to make sure there are no flaws that could lead to a house fire.

Also, heating systems, especially with floor vents can cause fires if furniture and clothing are too close.

On the highways, slick roads with an oily surface can be very dangerous especially during the beginning of the season. Eliason also says don’t try to get your car through a flooded intersection. “We want you to turn around and not drown. If you see standing water or moving water, remember six inches of moving water can knock you down and carry you away. Two feet of water can float a car and move a car. If you can’t see the roadway don’t drive over it, you don’t know what the road conditions are underneath. “

He also urged drivers to check their vehicles closely this week. “Now is the time before the rain comes, to check your tires to check your tread. Make sure your windshield wipers are working, get your car in good operation for the rain,” said Eliason.

Santa Barbara County has water rescue teams skilled in both river and ocean rescues.

The transition from a High Fire Season to a Winter Preparedness Level comes after Santa Barbara County received more than two inches of rain in the storm last week, and more is coming later this week.

If dry weather returns, the fire department says staffing levels can be increased. The response levels will be evaluated each day during the Winter Preparedness Level.

Special burn permits will also now be issued, after a property owner meets the regulations for a controlled burn.

Although the fire danger has decreased considerably, it is still possible to have wildfires during the winter months in Southern California.

Fire departments have information available for your “Ready, Set, Go” plan to be prepared for an emergency.

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