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High winds put crucial fire training on hold

May 10, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Gusting winds aren't only inconveniencing SoCal residents, they're holding back crucial training for firefighters.Winds were gusting through the canyons in Santa Clarita Monday, picking up steam toward the evening.

"The trees are blowing, and you're trying to drive and it shakes you off the road a little bit, and once you hit the underpass, you swerve back the other way because you're trying to fight the wind," said Palmdale resident John Yates.

"We had our hoods up, just tied around our face, and it was just an afternoon out in the backyard, dressed like we're ready for the east coast weather," said Santa Clarita resident Jennifer Langford.

By Monday night, gusts up to 40 miles per hour are expected to blow through the Sierra area. For L.A. County fire fighters, that means that their spring training session that's usually held in the northern canyons in the Santa Clarita Valley, will have to be put on hold. The training is crucial as it prepares crews for the demanding fire season ahead.

"We're lighting small fires that's very manageable, giving everybody an opportunity to practice the skills of progressive hose lays and cutting line because it's training and it's very important that we monitor it and we have everything in place. We don't want the training fire to become a real fire," said Los Angeles County Fire Batt. Chief Buck Buchanan.

Monday, fire crews already got a taste of the action. High winds sparked a small brush fire near in Santa Clarita. Fire officials say that a flick of a match was all it took to get that fire going.

The winds may have died down later in the day, but Santa Clarita residents know that things can change quickly, and they know how to get ready.

"Our lawn chairs usually go in the pool. So we put them up to the house so they don't slide over to the pool," said Santa Clarita resident Deek Mahakian.

"You definitely have to keep both hands on the wheel. No playing around with one-handed driving when it gets like that up here," said Huntington Beach resident Sandy Johnson.

Authorities warn drivers of high profile vehicles to take it slow, especially through the Interstate 5 corridor. Fire officials also want to remind people to clear excess brush around their homes.


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