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Firefighters prep for Calif. fire season

May 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Southern California firefighters are bracing for the official start of fire season. Firefighters statewide are urging residents to hope for the best, but to be prepared for the worst.Weeks before fire season officially started, the hills surrounding Santa Barbara burst into flames. With dozens of homes destroyed, residents and firefighters were left to wonder what August would be like if May was this bad.

"The commonality again that we have is that we know that it is going to be hot, we know it's going to get dry, we know the wind is going to blow," said Chief Pat Dennen, San Bernardino County Fire Department. "And, unfortunately in Southern California, it's going to blow again."

With California's current budget problems, many want to make sure firefighters will have money when the fires start.

"The state is proposing to reduce Cal Fire's budget. In our professional view, this is a high-risk gamble that will affect our ability to respond to mutual aid calls. And it will affect the service we deliver to the public," said Chief Chip Prather, Orange County Fire Department.

Firefighters are also kicking off a new campaign for residents. The campaign includes simple tips for getting out of their homes quickly, should the situation call for an evacuation.

"What it is is a wildfire action plan. It's a program that was developed for the citizens that live in the interface, makes them aware of what they can do before the fire, during the fire and after the fire," said Captain Mike Brown, Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Fire season may officially be here, but with drought conditions across the region, it never really left.

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