Managed by Irvine Ranch Conservancy, Orange County Fire Watch is one of the largest volunteer fire watch programs in Southern California. The program is a vital resource that is designed to help reduce the rate of catastrophic wildfires through education, early reporting and deterrence.
Most local wildfires are unintentionally or intentionally ignited by humans and typically begin near roads or other urban wildland interface areas. One of the most common causes of brush fires are vehicles pulled over on roads or vehicles dragging low chains or expelled materials that can cause sparks. If a vehicle must pull over to the side of a road, it is important to avoid any dry brush, where hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can ignite fires.
“82% of wildfire ignitions in Orange County are roadside ignitions,” said Orange County Fire Watch Manager Tony Pointer. “Most of those ignitions are accidental and unintentional. Drivers should be cognizant when they have vehicle problems and be attentive to how and where they deal with them in a safe manner.”
Members of the community can do their part by keeping an eye out for unsafe and accidental situations that could serve as a potential hazard, and report any serious findings to authorities immediately. It’s important to be aware of when extreme fire danger periods occur and be ready to act fast in case a brush fire ignites nearby. Communities up to three miles away from a designated urban wildland interface area can be threatened by wind-dispersed and flying embers. It’s recommended to have a minimum of 100 feet of defensible space around homes to allow optimum space for firefighters to fight a wildfire. Information about wildfires can be found at your local fire agency through fire prevention campaigns like Ready, Set, Go!
“Southern California has vegetation that is fire-adapted or fire dependent and we will not ever be able to prevent all fires, our issue is that we have too frequent of fires and the vast majority can be prevented,” said Pointer. “In the Orange County Fire Watch program and Irvine Ranch Conservancy, we pass on the message that wildfires are a community problem and not just a firefighter problem because this is where we live, work, and enjoy the parks and open spaces.”
Irvine Ranch Conservancy and Orange County Fire Watch encourages the local community to embrace their role when it comes to preventing wildfires across Orange County. If you are interested in volunteering with the Orange County Fire Watch program, please call 714-508-4700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Orange County Fire Watch program and other volunteer opportunities with Irvine Ranch Conservancy, visit LetsGoOutside.org/volunteer.