Guest Article by Public Safety Commissioner Andy Beattie
La Cañada Flintridge is a beautiful, breezy, and tree-shaded community backing up to the wide-open native landscape of the Angeles National Forest. This is a delightful place to live, and a terrifying place to defend should wildfires develop. While the Station Fire thinned out some of the oldest brush abutting our city, that was four years ago this August. Nature has worked hard to come back in the foothills, and that early carpet of green is now a sea of brown fuel for potential fires.
The lesson of the Station Fire is not to be complacent about fire prevention, disaster planning, or brush clearing at your homes or businesses. The destructive threat of fire is very real in our community, and with high temperatures forecast and winds certain to blow this summer, being prepared is never more necessary than now.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby discussed the concern for this year’s fire season saying the department is preparing for a more dynamic fire season than they have seen in 100 years. The recent Powerhouse Fire in Palmdale/Lancaster which burned more than 29,000 acres and destroyed 50 homes and buildings was evidence of extreme fire behavior according to LA County Fire Department.
Also, the Yarnell Fire in Arizona which killed Granite Mountain Hotshot Kevin Woyjeck – the son of Los Angeles County Fire Department Fire Captain Joe Woyjeck – as well as 18 others is yet another example of the deadly consequences of fire and that Chief Osby’s insights are on target.
We have often been told by Los Angeles County Fire Department that our City is vulnerable to a dangerous wild fire because of or proximity to the foothills and our lush urban canopy. More than ever before, this year the extreme temperatures and dry fuel should keep us all on guard and we should do everything we can to ensure we are complying with brush clearance orders.
Our Los Angeles County Fire companies 19 and 82 have worked hard this spring to inspect potential fire hazard properties in La Cañada Flintridge, and are finding strong commitment to brush control in the majority of the City. Inspections are nearly complete, and here are the results:
The good news is that so far only 12% of properties inspected were cited for hazardous brush, overgrown trees, or other potentially dangerous fire conditions. Owners are given 30 days to correct the issues. If not corrected in that time, the properties will be referred to Los Angeles County Agriculture Department for clearance, with the cost being charged to the owner’s property tax bill. History tells us that many of those cited will work quickly on their own to bring their properties into compliance. But those few who choose to “let the County do it” are placing themselves, their neighbors, and potentially the entire City at risk by delaying clearance – not to mention tapping scarce County financial resources that could be better employed for other public services.
So please keep up the good work in maintaining fire-defensible spaces around your homes, keeping trees healthy and trimmed, and in clearing dry brush from throughout your property. Let’s be a City of “Brushwackers” – not “Brush Hogs!”
Andy Beattie Commissioner City of La Cañada Flintridge Public Safety Commission