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Home > Natural Resources > Disaster Resources

Wildfires in Populated California Communities

Wildfires are part of doing business in California. The looming 2007 drought raises risks for businesses, our families and our support system.

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2007 is one of the driest years in recorded history for most of California. Is it part of global climate change? Whatever the answer to that overarching question, the early indicators are that wildfires are a growing problem for our growing population -- and our growing populated areas that are snuggling into wild areas.

Businesses are part of that trend. And businesses face both risk and responsibility in fire safety.

Solutions that business can implement are as varied as the businesses themselves, but here are some strategies that fit with sustainability and apply directly to fire safety.

  • Reduce consumption of water. Much of California is a desert ecosystem and we need to fit into that big ecosystem.
  • Reduce air quality degradation. (Wildfires and winds cause enough air pollution naturally!)
  • Make safety a sustainable strategy when using chemicals, heat, etc.
  • Be part of your community. Know what's needed from everyone to have a safe, sustainable neighborhood.
  • Prevent fire risk by landscaping with native species and maintaining the landscape in a responsible way -- not just focused on aesthetics.

October 2007 Southern California Firestorms

There have been 13 fires reported as of this keeps growing, but hopefully the Santa Ana winds will break tonight or tomorrow and the fires will be a little easier to contain. I'll keep you posted with links to disaster relief resources.

Catalina Island

About 700 firefighters battled the blaze, which burned about 4,200 acres — about 6 of the island's 76 squares miles. Avalon Fire Chief Steven Hoefs said the cause of the fire remained under investigation but it appeared to have been sparked as contractors worked on antennas at a radio station in the island's interior. This spring is one of the driest rainy seasons on record. Just 2 inches have fallen on Catalina this year.

Griffith Park - Los Angeles

An 800-plus-acre wildfire blazed across the largest park in Los Angeles, Griffith Park in the Los Feliz area at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains. Winds around ten miles per hour and high temperatures fueled the blaze. The fire burned 817 acres in two days and is considered the largest in the area in three decades. This fire threatened some of L.A.'s most famous landmarks, including the Griffith Observatory, the L.A. Zoo and the merry-go-round.

Los Angeles officials will dedicate $50-million to emergency repair for a large swath of Griffith Park ravaged by this week's brush fire. Park rangers said they want to immediately begin replanting and reseeding the burned hillsides and canyons, fearing major rains this fall could cause massive landslides, threatening park facilities and homes in Los Feliz.

Natural Resource Recovery Strategies

Los Angeles started a "Million Trees" campaign in 2006 to help improve air quality in the sprawling urban community. These two LA County fires probably wiped out that many trees -- mature trees!

Urban forestry and tree planting is not only about beauty. It is about maintaining the natural resources system that must process the human (and animal) impact on that working system. Now LA will need to plant at least TWO MILLION trees just to replace the lost capacity of those mature trees. And air quality will suffer for many years until those trees reach sufficient maturity to clean the air.

Air quality is most effectively processed by mature trees -- and city trees are frequently cut down when they reach maturity. Restoration of the natural system is a constant cycle that requires sustainability planning and ongoing implementation by ALL residents in a community...especially businesses that have so much capacity to damage or improve that natural system.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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