* California’s parched climate, often desiccated brush, and Santa Ana windscreate the perfect recipe for wildfires. The Santa Anas begin in deserts to theeast and rush erratically through mountain passes and canyons into SouthernCalifornia communities.
* During Santa Ana conditions, fires can be easily ignited by nature, in thecase of lightning, or by humans. Some are arson, while others can be sparked bymachinery operated near dry brush, campfires or carelessly tossed cigarettes.Downed power lines also pose a fire hazard. Once the wildfires are whipped bythe winds, they spread quickly and are extremely dangerous and difficult tofight.
* “Fire Season” officially begins in early summer and lasts throughOctober, though officials say that as the state suffers through cyclical droughtconditions, they consider the season to be almost year-round in SouthernCalifornia.
* The worst California wildfire of the past decade was the Cedar Fire inOctober of 2003, which killed 15 people and destroyed more than 4,800 structures,many of them houses, as it burned nearly 300,000 acres in San Diego County.
* Earlier this year, Los Angeles firefighters battled major brush fires –one that blackened 817 acres in the city’s landmark Griffith Park and anotherthat threatened the town of Avalon on Catalina Island, some 22 miles off thecoast. The Zaca fire burned through 240,000 acres of Santa Barbara ranchland fortwo months over the summer.