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The Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. encourages residents to prepare for fire season. While the county has experienced wildfires in the past, Isla Vista is relatively safe due to its flat terrain.

The department will begin suspending burn permits for hazard reduction and increase the number of safety resources including engines, dozers, crews and helicopters next week for initial responses to local vegetation fires. The 2008 Gap and Tea Fires and 2009 Jesusita Fire occurred in the county during this time of year and cumulatively destroyed nearly 20,000 acres of land.

According to SBCFD Public Information Officer David Sadecki, this year’s high level of expected rainfall could prevent large fires similar to those of previous years.

“Last year was kind of a quiet season compared to three years prior and this year we are expecting more of the same,” Sadecki said. “But we are expecting some grass fires early in season.”

The UCSB Fire Protection Division performs construction plan reviews and inspections, conducts fire safety inspections in existing buildings and provides fire safety oversight during campus events.

UCSB Campus Fire Marshal Chris Wiesen said wildfires pose a significant safety threat to the university.

“The main effect is power outages, which affects the general safety around campus,” Wiesen said. “The campus also provides shelter for displaced people in the community and the Environmental Health and Safety building has even served as the County Operations Center during some of the recent wildfires.”

The flat geography of the UCSB campus and Isla Vista make the areas relatively resistant to wildfires, according to Wiesen.

“Fire burns 60 times faster uphill than on flat ground, but that’s not to say flat grass fires don’t pose a danger,” Wiesen said. “We have a weed abatement program and when grass starts turning yellow we cut it around any UCSB property or place with open fields and tall grass. Between a small, slow-moving grass fire versus a fast-burning high grass fire — the difference is exponential.”

The SBCFD launched its “Ready! Set! Go!” wildfire action program in May 2009 to educate Southern California residents about the threat of fires.

Sadecki said the program aims to reduce future loss of life and property damage.

“The ‘Ready! Set! Go!’ program encourages people to, first of all, prepare yourself, your family and your property,” Sadecki said. “The set is meant to monitor fire and weather activity and prepare to evacuate. And go; leave early when directed by public officials.”

Visit www.sbcfire.com to learn more about proper safety measures during wildfire season.