Keeping flames at bay
Weekend fires prompt residents to seek tips on how to stay safe during incidents
More than 1,500 acres burned over the last two weekends, but don’t call that the start of fire season, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Gustavo Medina said Monday.
“There is no ‘break,’” Medina said. “I think (this weekend) was a friendly reminder—brush season is truly year-round.”
On Saturday, the South Fire burned about 175 acres before it was under control, and a few hours after that incident began in the Placerita Canyon area of Newhall, the Dry Fire broke out across the SCV in Castaic—burning only 2 acres before aerial assistance helped extinguish the
blaze that started in very steep terrain.
The cause of both fires is still under investigation.
Despite the fact the state’s largest fire in state history, the Thomas Fire, started in December, many residents wait until the summer to create defensible space, leaving property vulnerable to Southern California summer heat and a nearly everpresent fire risk, officials said.
The reality is, pretty much everyone in the Santa Clarita Valley is at risk, Medina said and should have a plan under CalFire’s “Ready, Set, Go!” strategy.
The idea is to have residents be “Ready” with preparedness understanding, be “Set” with situational awareness when fire threatens and to “Go,” acting early when a fire starts, according to CalFire’s website.
As SCV residents began their search for information to find updates on the incidents over the past two weeks—the Stone Fire burned nearly 1,400 acres the previous weekend—a new resource for information became available.
Between June 8-10, The Signal’s Fire Watch, which is available at SignalSCV. com/FireWatch, was used 17,333 times by SignalSCV.com visitors.
The Signal’s Fire Watch is a webpage dedicated to supplying data related to all wildfires in the SCV.
“Our team saw a need within the community for up-to-date information delivered in a consistent and easy to digest format,” said Austin Dave, director of digital operations. “The overall goal is to arm people with information from official sources as fast as possible from a central location, so those looking for information don’t have to crawl through several websites.”
The first section of the page is dedicated to the current fire being tracked and presents the user with current acres charred, the percentage of burn area contained and the number of firefighters deployed to fight the blaze.
The data comes from a variety of sources including—but not limited to—the county fire department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Angeles National Forest and InciWeb.
The middle of the page gives up-to-date evacuation information issued by the SCV Sheriff’s Station and a running timeline of events, both updated in near real time.
Tips on how to safely evacuate your home are listed by scenario including being inside a dwelling, on foot or in a car surrounded by flames, as well as what to do if you’re trapped.
A map of the current fires and their respective burn areas fed by data from the National Interagency Fire Center is also available. The map also shows current fire danger levels across the SCV.
Future updates to Fire Watch will see small refinements to the user interface including a more interactive timeline of events. Additional new features include contacts for horse evacuations, live video and user-submitted media.
More public agencies are using social media to send updates than ever before, and the last few fires were no exception to the trend. That’s why Fire Watch gathers tweets from the county fire department, Angeles National Forest and the SCV Sheriff’s Station.
Other agencies with relevant information will be added in the near future.
A crew of firefighters walk through brush to help stop the South Fire from spreading. The South Fire burned about 175 acres before it was under control. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. For updates on fires, visit SignalSCV.com/FireWatch.