Keep­ing flames at bay

Week­end fires prompt res­i­dents to seek tips on how to stay safe dur­ing in­ci­dents

The Signal - - FRONT PAGE - By Perry Smith Sig­nal Deputy Man­ag­ing Ed­i­tor

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.”

Week­end fires

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.

Sit­u­a­tional aware­ness

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 Sig­ 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.

Twit­ter ac­counts

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.

Sky­lar Barti/The Sig­nal (See ad­di­tional photos at sig­

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...

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