California

Growing up in Altadena, California, I remember watching the annual brush fires which would consume the vegetation on the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. These fires were always part of the natural cycle. Winter and spring rains would soak the hills, turning them to a beautiful green by Spring. Through the summer, the grasses would turn brown as they dried up. Around the end of the summer, something (often illegal fireworks) would set off a little brush fire which would grow, sometimes out of control. Perhaps the most dangerous time of all is when we have what is known as Santa Ana wind conditions. The Santa Ana winds are strong, very dry winds which generally occur in late summer and October. The temperature is usually unseasonably warm and the air very dry during these wind conditions. A tiny blaze becomes a raging fire, easily consuming thousands of acres before it is brought under control.

At the time of this post (9-21-06), the Day Fire is raging out of control in Southern California. The fire got its name because it started on the Labor Day holiday (Sept. 4th). It has consumed over 100,000 acres to date and expected Santa Ana winds coming this weekend are going to make it even more difficult to get under control.

Although California fires are part of the natural cycle of growth and regrowth, they are often preventable. For more than 60 years, Smokey Bear has been telling people: "Only YOU can prevent forest fires." Read more about Smokey Bear and fire prevention at:

http://www.smokeybear.com/
http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/wayne/facts/smokey_bear.html

Caption: The San Gabriel Valley is largely a residential area including the cities of Altadena, Pasadena, Arcadia and El Monte. Shown here is the Puddingstone Water Reservoir, which is surrounded by regional parks. Photo by Buddy Moffet.

 

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