Here we ask Tony Pointer, Fire Watch Coordinator at the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, his views on the upcoming fire season:
A: The rain we received has assisted the vegetation that has not had the best conditions to sprout and grow the last few years. The potential will be a combination of the increased vegetation growth and how hot and how severe the Santa Ana wind conditions will be. The grass and shrubs gain and lose moisture within hours. A slightly moist weather event can help a plant retain moisture or a very hot, dry wind like the Santa Ana’s can dry out a plant within hours.
Q: Are the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks and open space more susceptible to red flag conditions?
A: The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks are more susceptible than some other parts of the wildland interface areas during Red Flag conditions. Red Flag conditions occur because of high temperatures, low humidity and high wind. The Santa Ana Mountains and lower foothills provide the perfect topography for the Santa Ana winds to reach their greatest strength. If a fire occurs during a Red Flag Warning or Santa Ana Wind event, it is extremely difficult for Fire Fighters to extinguish it in those conditions.
Q: What is the Fire Watch Program?
A: The Fire Watch program is an important component in an overall Wildfire Awareness and Reduction strategy. We serve as a visual deterrent to arsonists while we engage and educate the public on safe land use and what might cause accidental ignitions during Red Flag wind events. We also intervene when someone might be in a situation that could cause an accidental ignition. This is essential in reducing human caused wildfires, especially the large catastrophic wildfires. We know it is not possible to deter and prevent all fire ignitions, so the additional early reporting function to assist the fire agencies is indispensable.
A: Fire Watch trainings occur on a frequent basis and all volunteers are welcome to join us for a variety of Fire Watch activities. Fire Watch volunteer deployments are most frequent between October and January, during Red Flag Warning and Santa Ana Wind season, but the program participates in events year round with education and outreach activities.
Interested in joining Fire Watch? Go to LetsGoOutside.org/activities/fire-watch