Year-round fires strike California

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made it clear in a news broadcast Sunday that we can no longer plan on fire season in the fall. In reality, we now have a year-round fire season.

Our hearts go out to those who lost their homes and who have to piece their lives back together after the fires that started last weekend.

With the Tea Fire in Santa Barbara, which police are saying was started by a bonfire, the Triangle Complex Fire, which burned areas of Yorba Linda, Anaheim Hills, Brea, Corona and Diamond Bar and the Sayre Fire that destroyed more than 400 homes in the Oakridge Mobile Home Park in Sylmar, we have realized that we can no longer be complacent. There are steps we can take to be better prepared for the inevitable.

Everybody needs to do their part and clear brush around their property. We also need to be very careful about where and when we light fires. Like Smoky the Bear has been saying for years, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” But beyond that, we can do our best to prevent all fires.

The Tea Fire in Santa Barbara is a perfect example of what not to do. A group of people started a bonfire and thought they had put it out sufficiently. The fire came back to life and caused damage to homes, land and people.

We need to think about not starting fires when conditions are so bad. California is extremely dry, and it is not a good idea to have a fire burning in such a dry environment.

What it comes down to is taking a second to really think about what we are doing.

Another lesson to be learned from the fires is to take actions that will help you survive and recover from such a devastating event. First, make sure that you have an emergency plan.

Make sure that everyone in your home knows how to get out of the house or apartment in case of a fire. Also make a decision on where to meet. Having a plan in place could mean the difference between surviving and not surviving. Second, make sure that you have fire insurance and find out what kind of coverage you have. Third, take inventory of your home.

A good tip is to take photographs of everything in your home and keep a set of photographs off-site so that you can show the insurance company what was in your house. Most of all, always be ready. We never know when a fire will start in California, and we can no longer be complacent.

Because of the hard work of the firefighters and many residents, we have a lot to be thankful for.

Many homes were saved from the fires and there were no human remains found in the mobile home park that lost more than 400 homes in the Sayre fire.

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