The Santa Anna winds are calmer today, but the flames in southern California are still out of control, causing more damage and more loss of life. More than 1,100 homes have been destroyed by the flames so far, with 30,000 more threatened. Fifteen people have been killed, mainly because they did not listen to evacuation orders.
The fire line stretches from the suburbs of Los Angeles south to the Mexican border. President Bush declared the region a disaster area, opening the door for aid to residents and businesses in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties.
You may remember two summers ago, when close to 500 acres in Bryan County, Georgia, went up in flames after lightning started a wildfire there. WTOC spoke with Georgia's Forestry Commission today, and while California is in the middle of its wildfire season, believe it or not Georgia is just about to start its.
"Their fire season is normally getting over this time of year, and ours is fixing to begin coming up with the wintertime," said the fire commission's Reggie Lanier. According to Lanier, Georgians need to be prepared.
Though we're seeing lots of rain and lots of green, Lanier says when the cold weather comes things will change. "The amount of rainfall we're having right now will prolong any threat of wildfire that we might have," he explained. "It will fuel the underscore, that vegetation will become lush and when it dies and dries out in wintertime, when season hits, it will add that much more fuel to the fire."
But Lanier says you can be ahead of the game. He says some might want to reconsider their landscaping. "The biggest thing we do here in the South is put three feet of pine straw around our homes," he said. "If one spark gets in that pine straw, starts it on fire, the home is going to catch on fire and it goes from there."
The Georgia Forestry Commission tells us it has not been called yet to help with the fires in California, but it is a possibility some of its single resources will be called to help.