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Southern California could be facing worst fire season in 100 years

June 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fire officials on Monday warned that Southern California could be facing its worst fire season in 100 years. That dire warning came as another blaze broke out, this time in Riverside County.

Late Monday afternoon, the Grand Fire erupted near Wildomar, where a hillside went up in flames and a deputy's squad car was doused with Phos-Chek.

"I looked out the door of my shop here and saw the fire coming over and told her to call 911 and say we got the hill on fire," said Wildomar resident Mark Laeger.

Already this spring, firefighters have had to burn the midnight oil, battling the Powerhouse Fire near Santa Clarita, the Springs Fire near Camarillo and the Hathaway Fire northeast of Banning, which was still burning as of Monday night.

The Hathaway Fire has charred close to 4,000 acres, injured nine people and full containment isn't expected for another week.

"Fire conditions in Southern California are at levels we have not seen in many, many years," said Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott.

Fire officials say the fires are expected to burn much more intensely at this point in the year than they have in the past. At a press conference Monday in Diamond Bar, fire chiefs from more than a dozen fire departments said they're preparing for a potentially historic fire season.

"We're going to have a very volatile fire season, probably the most volatile fire season that's projected based on our 100-year history in Southern California," said Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Budget cuts and a lack of resources could make the fire fights more difficult, but fire officials say the public can help by providing brush clearance around their homes and just by doing their part. They said 94 percent of fires are started by people, which means 94 percent of fires can be prevented.


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