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IE firefighters preparing for fire season

May 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The heat and extremely dry brush are a recipe for disaster for firefighters, so they worked to prevent wildfires on Wednesday.

In the San Bernardino National Forest, county fire crews attacked dead brush and trees by clearing them from vulnerable areas.

In the past couple of days, vegetation fires coupled with warm temperatures have kept Inland Empire firefighters busy. A recent 10-acre blaze in the city of San Bernardino had crews dousing flames in a field surrounded by homes.

"What we plan on having happen is putting in such space in such places that the fire will bypass the homes in the area," said Scot Turknette of the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

In 2003 and again 2007, wildfires wiped out homes in the area.

"When I came back, it was a pile of ashes, just ashes," said resident Tom Farley, who lost his home twice. He has rebuilt for a third time and says cleanup efforts will help if there is another fire.

"This is high-fire area right here, and whenever there is a fire, it comes rushing up this mountain like you won't believe," Farley said.

A wet winter is only adding to the trouble, with more grass and brush. Higher temperatures are helping to turn lush green hillsides into a dry fuel sources.

"It looks like this year is going to be another one of those fire years," Turknette said.

And while firefighters are busy gearing up for fire season, residents are also being told to do their part by putting space between them and the forest.

"I clear as much as I can. I've plowed a fire road down below my cabin, and I spray the weeds. I do as much as I can," Farley said.

But if all else fails, Megan Blaney of the San Bernardino County Fire Department urged residents to comply with evacuation orders.

"If you are informed that there's a fire, if you're informed that there's an evacuation, go and go early," she said.