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With California Wildfire Activity Already Up 700%, Authorities Urge Homeowners To Prepare Their Homes, Evacuation Plans

CALABASAS (CBSLA) — State officials are warning that this year could be the worst wildfire season California has ever seen after a dry winter and spring.

wildfire readiness
(credit: CBS)

Fire agencies gathered at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas, which was ravaged by the Woolsey Fire in 2018, to issue their warning that California has already seen nearly 14,000 acres burn since the start of 2021, an increase of 700%.

Among this year's wildfires include the North Fire that burned in Castaic last week, even though brush fires rarely happen in spring.

State and county fire departments say they're already ramping up with more firefighters and equipment, but they also need the public to do their part.

"The first thing you should do is make sure you have defensible space. Make sure that the fire isn't delivered to your doorstep," Cal Fire Director Chief Thom Porter said. "Once you do that, turn your attention to hardening your structure. Make sure that the embers that are gonna be coming from far beyond your yard, don't embed themselves in your house and start your house on fire."

Homeowners were also urged to make evacuation plans before a fire, and prepare in the event that utility companies proactively turn off electricity area on high fire danger days. When the temperatures and winds kick up, and humidity drops, people should also consider parking outside of their garages to make it easier to evacuate.

A day after the North Fire burned hundreds of acres in Castaic and Valencia and triggered mandatory evacuations, a fire broke out near the 101 Freeway in Thousand Oaks.

"That type of fire and growth wound normally be unprecedented for this time of year," said Los Angele County Fire Chief Daryl Osby.

Local, state and federal officials are now urging everyone to be prepared for wildfires because of our ongoing drought, increasing temperatures across the state, and low live fuel moisture. They say that moisture is falling faster than normal.

"These indicators along with others lead us to believe this will be another busy and challenging wildfire season," Osby said.

"We've already had more fires this year than this time last year; to date 700 plus percent higher number of acres burned in California," said CAL Fire Director Chief Thom Porter.

Canyon Country resident Marcos Briano is thankful his home wasn't damaged during the Tick Fire in October 2019. Sadly, his neighbor's house was destroyed.

"It was horrible, the fire was coming over the hill, it was pretty intense," Briano said.

Kim Pro's family lives nearby and she says every time she looks at homes that are now being rebuilt after the Tick Fire, she's reminded of the potential for wildfires any time of the year.

"Right now, we have dead trees behind our house that need to be cleared and there's a lot of dry brush, and it's a big concern," Pro said.

Fire officials are asking everyone to help them by being ready with an evacuation plan and reducing the risk of devastation to their homes and communities.

"We urge you now, if nothing else, to start doing your brush clearance. It's important that you create defensible space around your homes enabling firefighters to protect your home," Osby said.

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