Laurene Weste: Protect our beautiful landscape and prevent fires

Council member Laurene Weste
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The Santa Clarita Valley, with its rolling hills, beautiful oak trees and thousands of acres of open space, provides an unparalleled backdrop for living, working and raising a family. We are fortunate to call this valley our home, and we have worked tirelessly as a community to preserve its natural beauty. As we enter a time of year when fire danger is elevated, we must continue to do our part to protect the plants, animals and precious natural habitats from potential destruction.

In the city of Santa Clarita, we know all too well how devastating fires can be, not just to our landscape, but also to our neighborhoods that suffer damage. Over the Fourth of July weekend, we saw how quickly the Soledad Fire spread in hot and dry conditions. Just last fall, we underwent the largest evacuation in the city’s history as the Tick Fire raged through Tick Canyon and destroyed homes in Canyon Country. While we are thankful no lives were lost during that emergency, we saw the lasting effects of the fire as residents were displaced from their homes and many families had to rebuild.

Over the past number of years, the fire season in Santa Clarita has grown to be a year-round threat. As we see higher temperatures in the summer, as well as dry and windy conditions, it is important to take precautions that will limit the fire danger as much as possible — both at home and in nature.

More residents are spending time at home while “Safer At Home” orders are in effect, which means more home-cooked meals and using the barbecue. While barbecuing meals is both a wonderful way to pass the time and a chance to get the family outside for some fresh air, please remember to follow all safety procedures when grilling. This includes making sure your gas grill is completely turned off after use, or you properly dispose of charcoal ashes if your grill does not run on propane. Coal ashes, the same as your fireplace ashes, must go into a metal container with a metal lid to suffocate all possibility of reigniting, even if you think the coals are completely cold.

At the same time, trail users are out exploring the magnificent open space areas that surround our city. When hiking on a city or Los Angeles County trail, remember that all smoking and warming fires are prohibited. It is also necessary to help keep our trails clean and clear so that should a brush fire start, emergency personnel will be able to access the areas they need quickly.

Santa Clarita residents should be familiar with the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Ready! Set! Go! program, which offers a number of resources to help you develop a personal wildfire protection plan. From how to create a defensible space for your property to stocking your emergency supply kit, the Fire Department’s Ready! Set! Go! booklet has valuable information that every resident needs to know. The booklet is available by visiting fire.lacounty.gov/RSG.

The city is thankful for the leadership of L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby and Assistant Fire Chief Anderson Mackey when it comes to protecting lives, property and nature in Santa Clarita.

Fire safety is the responsibility of the entire community. We must all help keep ourselves and our neighbors safe. Our children and our pets are dependent on us to be diligent. For more information, please visit santa-clarita.com and search “Emergency Preparedness.” Residents can also sign up to receive emergency notifications by visiting SantaClaritaEmergency.com and stay connected with the city on Facebook for up-to-the-minute information on emergency situations.

By working together to prevent wildfires, we can all help protect the community we love to call home and we can all have a safe summer experience.

Councilwoman Laurene Weste is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected]

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