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CAL FIRE Discusses Wildfire Preparedness

Your browser does not support this object. View the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InF1Fe11OM4

Video published August 27, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: We'll hear from CAL FIRE's Captain Mike Mohler about the status of the wildfires burning around the county and what San Diego County residents can do to prepare their property for fire and themselves for evacuation.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY IS HEATING UP AFTER A RELATIVELY MILD SUMMER. TEMPERATURES REACHED TRIPLE DIGITS IN THE INLAND VALLEYS AND DESERTS AND ALONG WITH THE HEAT HIGH FIRE ADVISORIES. THIS WEEK ALONE CAL FIRE HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN FIGHTING FIVE BRUSHFIRES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTY AND JOINING ME NOW WITH THE LATEST INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR FIRE SEASON IS CAPTAIN MIKE MOTHERHOOD AND HE'S THE PUBLIC INFORMATION --MIKE MOELLER AND HE'S THE PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER FOR CAL FIRE. WHAT'S THE LATEST ON THE FIRES BURNING IN THE COUNTY RIGHT NOW?

RIGHT NOW THE ACTIVE FIRES IN THE COUNTY AND THE FORWARD PROFESSION ALL THOSE FIRES HAS BEEN STOPPED. MOST OF THEM AROUND --PROGRESS OF ALL THOSE FIRES HAS BEEN STOPPED. MOST OF THEM ARE AROUND 90% CONTAINED AND WE'RE KEEPING RESOURCES OUT THERE AS WE COME TO THE TAIL END OF THIS HEATWAVE TO MAKE SURE THOSE FIRES ARE ALL BUTTONED UP.

OF THE FIVE CONTAINED NEARLY STOPPED WHAT HELPED FIREFIGHTERS STOP THESE FIRES FROM PROGRESSING AND THREATENING HOMES?

MULTIPLE TIMES A YEAR NOT ONLY CAL FIRE IN SAN DIEGO BUT STATEWIDE AND ALL THE OTHER FIRE AGENCIES IN SAN DIEGO GO TO A STAFFING PATTERN. WEEKS PRIOR TO A HEATWAVE OR ANY TYPE OF FIRE WEATHER THAT COMES IN WE ASSESS THAT AND THEN WE STAFF ADDITIONAL RESOURCES IN CRITICAL AREAS SO WE HAVE ADDITIONAL STAFFING TO RESPOND TO THOSE FIRES IN A HIGH FIRE DANGER ATMOSPHERE.

BEING PROACTIVE?

ABSOLUTELY.

WHAT ABOUT THE HEAT THAT'S SORT OF THE HEATWAVE THAT WE EXPERIENCED? HOW COME THAT DIDN'T POSE AN EXTRA PROBLEM?

WE DID HAVE THE HEAT, BUT THIS HEATWAVE HAD 0 WE CALL A MONSOONAL FLOW --WHAT WE CALL A MONSOONAL FLOW AND WE HAD THE THUNDERSTORM BUILDUPS AND OVER 70 LIGHTNING STRIKES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTY, IF NOT MORE. THAT WAS A HUMID STORM. WE HAD A LOT OF PRECIPITATION WHICH KNOCKED THE FIRES DOWN. WHAT THAT ALSO CONTRIBUTES TO IS WHEN WE HAVE A FIRE, WE CALL IT A RATE OF SPREAD, HOW FAST THAT FIRE IS MOVING. WHAT HAPPENED DURING THIS HEATWAVE IS OUR FUEL MOISTURES WERE UP MEANING THAT EVEN IN THE DEAD FUELS WE HAD HIGH FUEL MOISTURES AND WHAT THAT DOES IS AS THE FIRE COMES THROUGH, IT ACTUALLY SLOWS THE PROGRESS OF THE FIRE. FIREFIGHTERS CAN GET IN THERE QUICKER AND HOLD THEM TO A SMALLER ACREAGE.

WHAT STARTED ANY OF THESE FIRE?

ON THE MONTY FIRE WHICH WAS HANDLED BY THE UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE WAS CHILDREN PLAYING WITH FIRE AND THE SANTA FIRE WE HAD AN AUTOMOTIVE SPARK A PART FROM THE VEHICLE THAT WENT INTO A BRUSH OFF THE HIGHWAY.

WE KNOW LIVING IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY THINGS START TO HEAT UP NOW LATE SUMMER. SO WHAT DO YOU MOST --ARE YOU MOST CONCERNED ABOUT AS AN AGENCY AS WE SEE THINGS GET HOTTER AND AS PERHAPS THE RISK INCREASES?

OUR MAJOR CONCERN IS THE PUBLIC. IS THE PUBLIC READY? CALIFORNIA HAS EXPERIENCED SOME OF THE LARGEST WILDFIRES IN CALIFORNIA'S HISTORY. WE WANT TO KNOW THAT THE PUBLIC AND THE RESIDENTS OF SAN DIEGO ARE PREPARED. DO YOU HAVE YOUR DEFENSIBLE SPACE? DO YOU HAVE YOUR EVACUATION PLAN AND IF NOT, IT'S TIME TO DO IT. YOU NEED TO HAVE THOSE THINGS DONE AND IT'S NOT ONLY FOR THE PUBLIC SAFETY, BUT ALSO FOR THE SAFETY RESPONDERS THAT ARE GOING INTO THAT AREA.

WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT THE DEFENSIBLE SPACE. QUICKLY REMIND OUR VIEWERS WHAT THAT MEANS.

DEPENDING THE AREA YOU LIVE IN, YOU NEED TO CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENT. IF YOU'RE IN A CAL FIRE AREA, WE ASK THAT YOU HAVE A 100-FOOT CLEARANCE FROM YOUR STRUCTURE MEANING THAT THERE'S A DEFENSIBLE SPACE AROUND YOUR HOME. WE TALK ABOUT DEFENSIBLE SPACE NOT ONLY FROM THE HOMEOWNER BUT THE FIRE AGENCY. WHEN ANGRIER COMES INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD, THEY HAVE TO -- AN ENGINE COMES INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD, THEY HAVE TO ASSESS THAT NEIGHBORHOOD. IT GIVES THEM AN AREA TO GET IN THERE AND DEFEND YOUR HOME. SO 100-FOOT CLEARANCE IS WHAT WE ASK.

CAPTAIN MOEHLER, WHAT YOU TALK TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE HAD TO LEAVE THEIR HOME BECAUSE OF FIRE DANGER OR EVEN LOST THEIR HOME, WHAT'S THE ONE THING THEY TELL YOU THEY WISHED THEY WOULD HAVE KNOWN AHEAD OF TIME?

HERE IN SAN DIEGO AND WE'VE BEEN IN FIRES ACROSS THE STATE BUT ODDLY ENOUGH IS MEDICATIONS. HOMEOWNERS HAVE A PLAN, BUT A LOT OF TIMES THEY FORGET THEIR MEDICATIONS. I REMEMBER HERE IN 2007 WORKING ON THE HARRIS FIRE ONE OF OUR BIGGEST REQUESTS FOR HOMEOWNERS TO RETURN WAS TO GO AND GET PRECIPITATIONS BECAUSE A LOT OF THOSE VITAL SERVICES IF WE HAVE A MAJOR FIRE MAY NOT BE INTACT AS FAR AS CONTACTING A DOCTOR OR YOUR PHARMACY. SO MEDICATIONS AND THAT'S PART OF YOUR READY, SET, GO PROGRAM.

SO THEY OUGHT TO KNOW WHAT THEY'RE PACKING JUST IN CASE AND SO THIS ISN'T SOMETHING THAT, YOU KNOW, PROBABLY WILL NEVER HAPPEN. YOU LIVE OUT IN SORT OF THE BACKCOUNTRY, IT'S PRETTY LIKELY THAT IT COULD HAPPEN?

ABSOLUTELY. WE ALWAYS TELL THE PEOPLE THAT WE SERVE THAT IT'S NOT IF IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. IT'S WHEN IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN AND WE WANT TO MAKE SURE HERE IN SAN DIEGO AND ACROSS THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA WE HAVE YEAR-ROUND FIRE SEASON AND YOU HAVE TO BE PREPARED. THAT'S 0 WE DO HERE IN CALIFORNIA.

--WHAT WE DO HERE IN CALIFORNIA.

IF OUR VIEWERS WANT TO LEARN MORE, THERE'S A WEBSITE.

THERE IS. IT'S CALLED READY FALCON FORWILDFIRE.ORG AND -- READYFORWILDFIRE.ORG AND THAT WILL GET YOU SET WITH THAT EVACUATION.

Comments

Avatar for user 'ljacks123'

ljacks123 | August 28, 2010 at 9:28 a.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

Of all the reasons given for starting wildfires, why to we not hear about wildfires started by illegal aliens. Certainly the Horsethief Fire was started by illegal aliens. What about the Harris Fire? Why is this never reported as a cause of wildfires in San Diego county?

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