Saturday, May 4, 2013

Springs fire in California: Good preparation, good firefighting and less damage

Springs fire in California: Good preparation, good firefighting and less damage, The Springs Fire near Malibu is the latest uncontrollable fire to engulf California real estate. The fast moving fire broke out 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles and grew to 43 square miles on Friday. Today, three things are helping: Good preparation, improved weather and good firefighting strategy. 900 firefighters are using all the equipment in their arsenal to battle the flames.

This includes such ground equipment as fire engines and bulldozers and air support vehicles like fire suppression helicopters and tankers. According to a May 4 Fox News article, the weather might be of help as humidity levels rise over the weekend.

The fire is in the Camarillo Springs area and it has damaged 15 structures. Thousands more are threatened, so 15 structures is considered a good sign that vastly more damage might be averted. The past week has been plagued with dry conditions, high temperatures and high winds. That weather pattern is expected to change over the weekend as cooler weather and moisture arrives.

Shayne Poindexter is a resident who saw flames within 30 feet of his home. Like many other residents, he is grateful for the work the firefighters have done. He said, "It came pretty close. All of these houses -- these firemen did a tremendous job. Very, very thankful for them."

Building in the rough, brush laden area of Camarillo Springs began 30 years ago. Since then, the area served as a model for how to keep homes from burning in fast moving brush fires. Homes have sprinkler systems and fireproof exteriors. Residents must clear combustible materials to a 100 foot distance from houses. Developers were required to make streets wide enough for emergency vehicles to reach their positions.

Camarillo Springs residents also clear the brush every few months instead of on a yearly basis. According to a May 3 LA Times article, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection battalion chief Nick Schuler said the most endangered homes are those with brush buildup within hundreds of feet of the home. County fire marshals throughout the state suggest that homeowners clear brush away from their homes, but many have not done so.

Speaking about the Springs Fire, Schuler said, “We’re in the middle of a lot of structure defense.” The latest southern California report from Cal Fire said that 4,000 homes and 300 commercial properties have been threatened. 15 residences, 15 outbuildings and five commercial properties were damaged.

This should be a reminder to residents of similar areas to clear their brush now and to repeat the process several times this year. Extreme drought conditions and unusually early warm weather has caused western fire danger seasons to start earlier and end later. That pattern is expected to continue for the next few years.

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