My neighbors and I in Topanga are greatly concerned about a burning ban imposed by the Air Quality Management District, which could result in catastrophic brush fires in the Santa Monica mountains.
Residents of Topanga and Malibu have been burning the brush and grass they are required each year to clear 100 feet from around their homes as a fire safety measure. This burning is done under permit issued by the Fire Department, on smogless days, early in the morning, in a well-cleared spot. Untold tons of flammable vegetation have been safely eliminated by this method with a minimum amount of smog. Without any warning, the AQMD last June clamped a ban on this controlled type of burning, claiming it is illegal.
We are now faced with the problem of what to do with the huge piles of brush, chaparral, dead tree limbs and grass. The cost of hauling to the dump in Calabasas--a 30-mile round trip from Topanga--is $150 a truckload. Each household can accumulate several truckloads annually and many would find the cost prohibitive. They would simply throw the dangerously dry brush into he nearest ravine or gully. Result: a tremendous buildup of fuel, just what is needed to feed voracious fires.