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Posted on: August 16, 2019

Getting Ready for Wildfire Season in Malibu

Wildfire Season Preparedness

WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS PROGRAM

In preparation for the peak of fire season in the fall, when Santa Ana winds create dangerous Red Flag fire conditions, City staff is engaged in numerous preparedness activities to promote community-wide readiness. 


MONITORING WILDFIRE CONDITIONS

Fire Safety Liaison Jerry Vandermeulen monitors key fire threat indicators for Malibu including fuel moisture levels, wind speed, temperature, and relative humidity in the Santa Monica Mountains. All of the City of Malibu is in a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone. Those are areas identified by CAL FIRE as places where wildfires are likely to be extreme due to factors such as vegetation, topography and weather, so the community should maintain situational awareness of those factors in order to be prepared. Residents should also make sure they closely monitor fire conditions so they can be ready well in advance if fire threatens our community. 

THIS WEEK 

As of August 15, the fuel moisture average for the Santa Monica Mountains is currently 75%, which is slightly higher than the 1981 – 2019 average and about 10% above what it was this time last year, meaning the fire danger is slightly lower than this time last year. The fire danger will continue to grow through the end of October as vegetation dries out, temperatures rise and strong Santa Ana winds appear. 

YOU CAN MONITOR CONDITIONS

During this time of year, the Los Angeles County Fire Department regularly reports the fuel moisture levels at several locations in the Santa Monica Mountains.  
The Fire Department also posts a Daily Fire Danger Analysis that gives a Burn Index based on factors such as wind speed, temperature, relative humidity and fuel moisture content.
The National Weather Service Los Angeles/Oxnard offers detailed weather forecasts, current conditions and hazard alerts.

 

Fire Hardening Home Assessments for Malibu Residents

The City now offers a no-cost “Home Ignition Zone Assessment Program” to help residents harden their homes against flying embers, a major cause of homes catching fire during wildfires. During wind-driven wildfires such as the Woolsey Fire, powerful, sustained winds can send burning embers travelling up to a few miles ahead of the fire front. More than 50% of homes lost during a wildfire catch fire due to flying embers, not direct flame contact. Fortunately, there are simple and often inexpensive ways to make homes safer from wildfire, including modifying landscaping around the home, sealing eaves, and moving flammable materials away from structures. 

Our volunteer inspectors from the Malibu Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Arson Watch have completed a 16-hour “Assessing Structure Ignition Potential from Wildfire” class through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in identifying specific areas that wildfire embers can find receptive fuels in and around a home. They will inspect your home and make recommendations on how to make it more fire resistant.  

Jerry Vandermeulen, the City’s Fire Safety Liaison, is also available to meet with individuals, business owners, homeowners associations, or multifamily residential property owners or managers to offer guidance on brush clearance and home hardening. He can also explain how to monitor wildfire conditions, how to use Pulsepoint and other tools to maintain good situational awareness well in advance of a wildfire, and how to prepare emergency and evacuation plans and supply kits.  

SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT

contact Jerry Vandermeulen at 310-456-2489, ext. 387 or jvandermeulen@malibucity.org.
For additional wildfire preparation information, visit the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Ready, Set, Go program.