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Fire Season is Here: What to Know
Above, fixed wing aircraft combating the fire in Latigo Canyon, where many houses were lost. This view is from Guldimann’s backyard in Point Dume. Photo by Suzanne Guldimann
Guide

Fire Season is Here: What to Know 

Fire season traditionally used to reach its peak after Labor Day. This year, fire season arrived early. So far, the Santa Monica Mountains have been spared, although a 15-acre blaze in Malibu Creek State Park was an uncomfortable reminder of what may be in store this fall. We are indeed more fortunate than our northern neighbors. So far this year in California more than 7,000 fires have scorched through more than 1.4 million acres, making this one of the most active fire seasons we’ve ever encountered. Governor Gavin Newsom said recently, by way of context that “by this point in 2019, 4,292 fires had burned 56,000 acres across the state.”

This is a great time to bookmark disaster resources, review Topanga’s excellent survival handbook, and stock up on emergency essentials like flashlights and backup batteries. Fire is inevitable in the Santa Monica Mountains, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be prepared to survive it. Find our permanently updated resource page here.

Weather

General weather: https://forecast.weather.gov

Weather alerts: https://alerts.weather.gov/cap/ca.php?x=1

Fuel/vegetation moisture level reports: https://fire.lacounty.gov/fire-weather-danger/

Air Quality

Purple Air is a network of individually owned air monitors that provide air quality data that is available to everyone. It offers an in depth look at air quality, neighborhood, by neighborhood. Helpful when there is smoke from wildfires. Fire isn’t the only hazard during wildfire season. https://www2.purpleair.com

For the official Los Angeles County Air quality warnings, visit Los Angeles County https://lacounty.gov/residents/environment/air-quality/

Current Emergency Status for Topanga

T-CEP remains the gold standard for neighborhood emergency preparedness. The emergency status page is updated whenever there is any situation that may pose a risk to Topanga residents. http://t-cep.org/emergencystatus/

General Incident Info

Los Angeles County Fire Department Blue 3 Scanner Feed. Provides live scanner feed for local incidents. https://www.broadcastify.com/webPlayer/21021

CalFire’s Daily Wildfire Report. Daily incident updates from CalFire. More helpful for wildland fires than for incidents in the local urban wildland interface, but still useful. https://www.fire.ca.gov 

Disaster Planning

Topanga Survival Guide

Malibu Survival Guide

CalFire’s Disaster Planning Guide and https://plan.readyforwildfire.org

Fire Safe Home Ignition Zone Evaluation and Volunteer Training (HIZEP): http://www.rcdsmm.org/

Emergency Supplies

SOS Survival Products sells everything from flashlights and walkie talkies to pre-assembled disaster kits. The goto source for emergency supplies. 15705 Strathern St #11, Van Nuys, CA 91406, (800) 479-7998, https://www.sosproducts.com. The showroom is currently closed but curbside pickup is available by appointment

Check List:

These were the things we found we needed most during the Woolsey Fire evacuation and power outage: 

Backup batteries for photos and laptops

Charging cables

Flashlights and battery-powered lanterns

A battery-powered radio

Extra AA batteries 

A go bag with a change of clothes and an extra pair of comfortable shoes

A first aid kit with a supply of all necessary medicines

Food, water, medicine, bowls, toys and carriers for each pet

For families with pets, children, elderly family members, it’s a good idea to evacuate early. Now is the time to arrange a place to stay, either with friends or family. Short term rentals, especially ones that accommodate animals, can fill up fast during a major disaster like Woolsey. While Red Cross shelters offer immediate help and shelter, may Woolsey Fire evacuees were displaced for weeks. Planning now can avoid adding stress to what is already one of the most stressful experiences any of us ever face.

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