Fire season in Southern California will be a tough one, officials say

NEWBURY PARK, VENTURA COUNTY

"It is going to be a difficult fire season because our live fuel moistures are extremely low this year we didn't get a lot of rain during the winter, so we are on guard," said Kathryn Kirkpatrick ¬a fire management officer with the National Park Service.

Despite tighter budgets, fire officials say they're ready and able to get the job done this season.

"Last year, we lost one firefighter on each of our engines, so we went from four-person fire engines to three due to budget cuts," said Cal Fire Chief Rober Lewin.

Fire crews urge residents in rural areas to clear brush around their homes.

"Everybody needs to prepare ahead of time by performing defensible space by clearing around their homes from the structure out, at least 100 feet, and making sure that all the dry vegetation is removed," Kirkpatrick said.

The Ventura County Fire Department has new computerized maps that can pinpoint the size and movement of a massive fire in real time. The same map is available to the public through the department's website.

"It has the ability to share our tactical information with the public, our fire perimeter, our evacuation areas, our incident command post," said Vaugh Miller, the department's assistant chief. "

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