The familiar sight of two bright yellow CL-415 Superscooper firefighting planes drifting slowly across the sky is a now familiar reminder that fire season is back and residents of Santa Clarita need to be vigilant.
Recent local fires include a roadside flare-up near Calgrove Avenue on the northbound side of the 5 freeway, most likely ignited by a tossed cigarette, a car fire that burned 15 acres on Pico Canyon Boulevard and a similar fire in Castaic near Lake Huges Road. In all three cases, the fires were contained within a few hours and no structures were damaged. Earlier in August, a 50-acre fire in Saugus broke out when a 14-year-old dropped a lighter while smoking a marijuana pipe. That blaze threatened homes but resulted in no structure damages. In addition a late summer fire burned east of the valley from Acton toward Palmdale, but as of yet, no major blazes have threatened our community.
The low fire count is mostly due to abundant rains from a weakened El Nino system, which has led to a cool summer. The result of the cooling trend has been additional moisture for typically dry brush. The trend is hardly local has the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, reports a national 30 percent reduction in fires over the summer period with some areas reporting more than half the usual numbers. The only state to report an increase in fires over their norm is Alaska.
The cool, moist summer is not without consequences as the brush in the Santa Clarita Valley is now higher and thicker than normal and can be found in numerous layers across the area. Local firefighting officials are making their rounds of empty lots and dry brush zones near populated areas informing homeowners and property owners to cut back their brush or face fines.
Residents along the perimeter of the valley, including outlying areas of Castaic, Stevenson Ranch, Placarita Canyon, Sand Canyon, Vasquez Road, Bouquet Canyon and areas north of Copperhill Road are reminded to remain vigilant and report the first signs of flare-ups before flames have a chance to spread to residential areas. A friendly eye-in-the-sky comes from the fire camp located atop Bear Mountain Divide, which overlooks Santa Clarita from the south. At the first signs of smoke in the valley LA County’s Fire’s yellow chopper can be seen lifting off from the fire camp and swooping in for a fast assessment.