SoCal fire officials sounding alarm over tinder-dry conditions, expect extreme fire season

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) -- Multiple fire agencies across the Southland are preparing for another busy summer fighting the elements.

Santa Clarita officials are voicing their concern over the tinder-dry conditions.

Firefighters have said fires are burning hotter, spreading faster with more intensity and destructive force, just like the recent blaze that ripped through Laguna Niguel and destroyed multiple homes.

READ MORE: At least 20 homes destroyed as 195-acre Laguna Niguel fire forces evacs; cause under investigation
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Fire officials believe a total of 20 structures in Laguna Niguel were destroyed Wednesday as a fast-moving brush fire spread rapidly amid strong winds.

"There's some hesitation to say, 'it's climate change,'" said Brian Fennessy, Orange County Fire Authority Chief. "I'm not a scientist, but I've been doing this 40-plus years and I've never seen fires spread the way it does."

Fire agencies from Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties are more diligent about combining efforts to battle what they say are more dangerous, explosive fires.

"The mutual aid system, thousands of firefighters, thousands of fire engines move every year to fight these devastating fires," said Brian Marshall of the California Office of Emergency Services

All fire chiefs and other authorities have warned that fire season is now year-round.

READ MORE: New weather report suggests California may have another intense fire season
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As we move into a warmer, dryer climate, meteorologists anticipate more acres will burn this year nationwide.

Fire chiefs from L.A. County to Orange County said the best way to battle blazes is to prevent them, which requires everyone's help.

"Over 90% of the fires that are caused in California are human-caused," said L.A. County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby. "We need to do a better job collectively, partnering with the departments because we know we have a challenge putting these fires out, but we need to do a better job collectively, preventing wildfires in our communities."

Officials want people to continue clearing out everything around homes that can burn, creating that defensible space to prevent a fire from starting.

"We know the drought is here. We know the fields are flammable. We know now with water restrictions, the vegetation around our homes are becoming flammable," said Chief Dustin Gardner of the Ventura County Fire Department. "So we know the threat is here and we know the threat is real.

"So now, what I'm going to ask all of our homeowners to do and everybody visiting our wonderful state of California is to be prepared."

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