Santa Barbara County fire crews faced a 2.2-acre vegetation fire in Los Olivos this morning. Luckily, no one was hurt and a barn near the flames remained untouched. But this incident could have been easily avoided.
As one of the leading causes of fires, state officials are trying to educate Californians on the dangers of home power equipment. Today's fire, reported at 11:35 a.m., was related to a grass mowing operation. A blade strikes a rock creating a spark that lands on dry grass and boom: Fire!
"It's too late to be doing that," said David Sadecki, spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. "We recommend people get out there early."
The state recommends 10 in the morning as a cut off time, which Sadecki agrees with, but with a caveat: If the usual Santa Barbara County fog cover clears early, leaving sunny skies to soak up morning ground moisture, that's a good indication of when to stop.
That's especially important to follow this year: Rainfall in the county is 55 percent of normal and fuel moisture levels are normal to that of June and July, not May.
But abnormal numbers like that are not unique to Santa Barbara County. Statewide, fire officials are preparing for a hotter, more intense wildfire season. There's already been a nearly 50 percent increase in blazes.
One of those was in Los Olivos this morning. Perhaps it can be a lesson for Santa Barbarans -- and all Californians -- to hopefully stop a big one from happening in the future.