SoCal prepares for summer fire season

RIVERSIDE Officials said the moisture level in the chaparral, in the low grass in the foothills of the mountains and deserts inland, is just about normal for this time of summer. But with each hot day, the moisture level decreases, and the danger of fire increases.

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Fire officials are monitoring the devastation in Northern California with the certain knowledge it could happen in Southern California. And experience tells us not particularly from lightning strikes, but from human carelessness.

Restrictions are in effect in the national forest.

"We've actually limited campfires to our campgrounds and picnic areas that have road access, so in case there was an incident, we could get fire equipment into those sites," said John Miller, U.S. Forest Service. "We also have restricted target shootings to the shooting ranges that operate under special-use permit in the forest."

Fire crews with the Forest Service and Cal Fire ready equipment to enable quick response to a callout. Empty bays in some stations will be filled with fire trucks from other states.

"We have 50 fire engines coming in from neighboring states that will be here probably within the next 24 hours," said Bill Peters, Cal Fire.

Fireworks will soon be going on sale in many communities. That's a concern for firemen.

"We need to forgo those personal fireworks this year," said Peters. "Go see a fireworks show and just let it lie this year, until we can get a 'better climate,' if you will."

It's early in the Southern California fire season, and hopefully the area will be spared the disastrous fires of last year. Officials say the public can help by being extremely careful in the foothills and mountains, and by reporting fires immediately.

"If you see anything suspicious, please pick up the phone, dial 911," said Miller.

Many people plan to be in the outdoors over the holiday weekend -- officials hope that they'll go ahead with those plans, and hope that they will be aware of the fire danger.


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