Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fire Hazard

One of the big issues in Orange County is wildfire, especially recently, with the October 2007 California fires. While fire can be a healthy aspect of an ecosystem, when it occurs too frequently, it can have a disastrous effect. Unfortunately, in the last 100 years, over 90% of the fires in Orange County are caused by human activity on roadsides during Santa Ana wind conditions, like the ones this past weekend.

Photo thanks to a google images search
Irvine Ranch Conservancy and the Orange County Fire Authority have a volunteer program called Fire Watch. It's a neighborhood watch program, where during high fire risk conditions, volunteers are called upon to go out and monitor habitat for signs of fire so that the situation can be stopped before it gets out of control. At the Fire Watch website link above, you can sign up to be a fire watch volunteer.

Another way to help on a more personal level is to be mindful of the dangers you pose to the environment on a high risk day. For example, (an a huge personal pet peeve of mine) throwing your cigarette butt out of your car window. Not only is it illegal (littering), but discarded cigarettes and matches can also could land in the dry roadside brush and during windy conditions, it could spark a fire.

Another way humans start fires without meaning to is when you pull off on a brushy roadside instead of an official shoulder. The underside of your car is very hot after extended driving, and if there is sufficient dry brush touching the hot under-carriage, this can acutally start fires as well. A good way to prevent this problem is to pull off on gravel shoulders that are meant for cars, and not on the roadside.

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