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Local firefighters honor fallen comrades, and warn of extreme fire danger locally

Monday, August 31, 2009
/ Source: KSBY-TV

Monday, August 31, 2009

Reported by: Ryan Foran

Two firefighters died over the weekend as they battled the Station Fire in Los Angeles. The two Los Angeles county firefighters were killed in a vehicle accident.

Now fire stations throughout the state are paying tribute to their fallen comrades.

Fire stations all throughout California are flying their flags at half-staff.

In addition to flying Old Glory at half-staff, Cal Fire officials in San Luis Obispo are also shrouding their badges to honor the two men who died Sunday.

"It's something that really touches our heart, and is dear to each one of us because we can go out to a fire and that could happen to us, possibly," Cal Fire Captain Jane Schmitz said.

Smokey Bear is also providing an extreme possibility of what could happen here on the Central Coast. The sign that Smokey holds outside of the Cal Fire station reads "Fire danger, extreme" Monday afternoon.

"Like we talked about before: The grass, you can actually snap with your hands, and that's something people need to be aware of," Schmitz said.

Schmitz says that even though the weather is starting to cool down from the record breaking heat we had locally over the weekend, the damage was already done over the past few days. The hills are brown, and the fuel on the Central Coast is extremely dry and extremely flammable.

"The current trends right now, we're going to be getting into a cooling trend, but that shouldn't alert anybody that there is less danger. It's actually more dangerous because we had that heat over the weekend and dried out all the fuels, and there's no moisture that's been brought back into them," Schmitz added.

While 200 San Luis Obispo County firefighters are out of the area, Schmitz says many agencies are on what they call a staffing pattern. That basically means everyone who is not currently working is on call and ready to go at a moments notice.

Fire officials advise that if you are going to mow your lawn or clear space from your property, you should do so early in the morning.