19 June 2008

Fire in the Canyon

In mid-May, a tree branch snapped a power line on Fairway Drive across from the entrance to Western Hills Golf Course, causing a grassfire that threatened the two hilltop homes on the north side of Carbon Canyon Road near the beginning of the S-curve.
Interestingly, a surge traveled to the end of line where Carbon Canyon Rd. meets Chino Hills Parkway and started a second fire, which charred much of the hillside on the south side of the Carbon Canyon.

What's curious about this is that, for all the attention paid to the hazard of tree branches getting too close to power lines by the fire department and Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council, including fire department inspections of my house weeks prior to the fire, that section had, it appears, not been inspected and flagged.

Typically, fire season is about the first of June, but with our current drought conditions is stands to reason that the fire season should be moved up significantly.
An irony is that just days before the fire, a meeting was held across from the origin of the fire at the clubhouse at Western Hills to discuss the risks. Kudos to the City of Chino Hills, the fire department, and others for holding the meeting, but this fire is a stark reminder that the important steps already taken (including providing for two emergency exits out of the canyon in new housing developments--an important improvement) are not enough.

Action needs to be taken sooner to clear brush, remove branches from in and around power lines, creating fire breaks, and addressing other issues.

We're seeing great improvement in fire protection, thanks to local authorities and residents, but, given the severity of the drought and the amount of dry fuel existing in the canyon, we've got a way to go yet!

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