Ventura County firefighters urge preparedness with Thomas Fire in mind

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Thursday, May 24, 2018
Firefighters urge preparedness with Thomas Fire in mind
Ventura County firefighters are geared up for another dangerous fire season with the damaging Thomas Fire still fresh in their minds.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- Tom Lanski with Ventura County Fire was out fighting the Thomas Fire when his own home burned near Ojai.

"We take a lot of pride in this county and our county is not used to seeing houses burn," said Lanski.

Lanski's family and animals got out safely in the middle of the night thanks to the Ready, Set, Go Program and Ventura County Alerts. At a public safety event Wednesday, Lanski urged everyone who lives in the county to prepare for the possibility of another destructive fire.

"Do evacuate when you get the mandatory evacuations, because I saw a lot of frightened people that night. Lots of people crying. Lots of terrified people and emotion in upper Ojai," Lanski said.

PHOTOS: Thomas Fire devastates Ventura County

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A helicopter drops water while trying to keep a wildfire from jumping Santa Ana Road near Ventura, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.
AP Photo/Noah Berger

In the aftermath of the Thomas Fire, which burned over 281,000 acres across two counties and destroyed 1,000 homes in Ventura County, officials hope residents prepare like never before.

"Now we enter into the seventh year of a severe drought. It hasn't changed. It's getting worse. Gov. Brown mentioned it in December when he was here visiting that this is our new normal. These wildfires are growing more significant. Our fire season is basically the entire year," said Ventura County Fire Department Chief Mark Lorenzen.

The department had their fire fighting tools on display at the event including goats to help with weed abatement, a water-dropping helicopter and ground crews at the ready. The Ventura county Fire Department is urging homeowners to maintain defensible space around their property, clearing dry brush.

"We ended up only losing one person that night and that was in a traffic accident. At the rate it spread through the towns we had, it should have been higher. But, thanks to the Ready, Set, Go Program and VC Alert system, I think we all did a great job," Lanski said.