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Fire Fighting Begins With Brush Clearing by Residents

A good defense is to take out tall grass and dry brush near homes now

Fire Season

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Fire Chiefs have met to talk about the hot, dry fire months ahead, and how residents can take steps to protect their properties now.

Several strong messages are being repeated in public sessions and media announcements throughout the area.

One is to cut back dry brush and grass 100 feet from your home.

They also want residents to have a "Ready, Set, Go" plan.  That will give them a chance to grab their important possessions and evacuate a fire zone safely.

Residents are also urged to get to know their neighbors, and develop a communication system, with email lists, phone numbers, and other ways to alert each other in an emergency.

The Eucalyptus Hill homeowners in Santa Barbara, tested their system last weekend.

"We do have a radio program with repeaters  and we also have a phone tree," said John Ahlman with the Fire Safe Council and a resident in the Eucalyptus Hill area. "We just did a reverse 911 test last Saturday. We do that once a year  and people are more aware."

"They help each other prepare," said Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Michael Dyer. "It's not just fire season, it's all emergencies, earthquake and  floods,
it helps us in our partnership with the community."

Many residents remember the two major fires, the Tea and Jesusita, in 2007 and 2008.  A total of over 300 homes were lost in the Santa Barbara frontcountry.

Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Pat McElroy said, "it's learning how to coexist with fire is what we need to do, because it's not going away."

Homes that have no brush clearing create a dangerous battle ground for fire crews when massive walls of flames come through.

"And so we pull up to a home and we check it out from the seat of the truck. If we think we can defend it we will,  if not  we'll move on to the next one," said Captain David Sadecki with Santa Barbara County Fire.

At the first sign of smoke, a full response is sent out.  That includes engines, bulldozers, helicopters, and planes.

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