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High Fire Season opens in Santa Barbara County

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - On a gloomy day comes a serious message about the potential risks of fires this summer and fall season.

The 2023 High Fire Season begins now for all of Santa Barbara County. That's the highest period
of fire risk and preparedness.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department and related area agencies are united in their message for the public to be prepared in every way.

They gathered Monday at the Santa Barbara County Fire Department headquarters.

If the have brush or grass around their homes, clear it back.

If they need to develop and escape and response plan, they need to do that well before an emergency with a "Ready! Set! Go!" wildfire action plan.

The winter season had intense rains, and with that, the growth of grasses has spread in many areas. They have now started to go from green to brown, and fires are often starting in the "flashy fuels."

Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Chris Mailes is also the head of the Santa Barbara County Fire Chief's association. He says, "in our area,  jurisdiction goes from federal to county to city  in a matter of feet not miles.  That demands that we all work very very  closely together."

A fire in one jurisdiction can easily move to other regions , fast.

Without a lot of heat, the message is not always convincing to the public.

Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig says, " I can drive here to the valley and you can see the shades of green to brown.  It is already brown  as we know in the valley because the valley is already getting that sun ."

One of the indicators on just how explosive the fire season can be  is our dry grasses these dry grasses. No longer are they two or three feet tall.   Some of them  measure higher than six feet and that shows you if they catch on fire from an accidental or intentionally started fire they can be very dangerous to communities  within minutes.

Santa Barbara County Division Chief/ Fire Marshal Rob Hazard says, "you have a perfect scenario of a wick that gets fire off of our roadway or our neighborhoods into that heavier vegetation. There will be a lot more ignition so this grass fuel is very ignitable so the frequency of of ignitions, the number of grass fires will increase."

Hartwig said, "some of those fuels that we see trampled just on the side of the road, those aren't going to be trampled this year those will have to be removed."

Santa Barbara County 2nd District Supervisor
Laura Capps remembers the 1990 Painted Cave Fire. "Just knowing your neighbor how important that is. Just getting that phone number  to your neighbor on your left and neighbor on your right, that can saves live," said Capps. "That is the one tangible thing  that everybody can do just know your neighbor. "

Representatives of Santa Maria, Lompoc, Carpinteria and Guadalupe fire departments were also present and supported the message because the same fire risks exists in their areas.

The Chairman of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, Das Williams reminded the public of the many ways they can be proactive in fire prevention before a fire breaks out. That includes being part of the "shared fire safety."

Supervisor Joan Hartmann said there is a "Zero Zone" when it comes to defensible space and that is right on your property with the clearing of leaves and opening up the rain gutters. If they are clogged, that material can catch on fire.

Sheriff Bill Brown suggested a fireproof safe for those who would not be able to get all their valuables out in time. Many of the gun safes on the market are also fire safe.

In the past Brown has emphasized the important of following orders from authorities in an evacuation and not wait until you see flames. By then you may not have a safe route out.

For more information go to: Santa Barbara County Fire website

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Article Topic Follows: Fire
community assistance
emergency preparedness
High Fire Season
Santa Barbara
santa barbara county fire department

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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