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Monrovia firefighters battling small brush fire in foothills

April 20, 2013|By Carlos Lozano and Hector Becerra

Monrovia firefighters are battling a small brush fire in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.  

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene near Crescent Drive and Madison Avenue shortly after 11 a.m., said Jennifer McLain, a city spokeswoman. The fire is about 1 1/2 acres, she said, but cautioned that “conditions today are windy.”

The fire was started by a gardener, in the backyard of a residence, she said. No other details were available.

No homes are threatened at the moment and no evacuations have been ordered, McLain said.

In addition to the Monvrovia firefighters, Los Angeles County and U.S. Forest Service personnel are on the scene, she said.  

A lack of rain this season has produced especially dry conditions that have firefighters on alert for brush fires.

L.A. fire Capt. Jamie Moore said an aerial inspection of the city last week provided a sobering picture of just how dry the landscape has become.

"It is alarming how much the brush has grown since last season," he said. "We have a lot of dry underbrush. We have 20- or 30-foot-tall trees with brush and undergrowth."

In the hills of Los Angeles County, tests show the brush is drying out at a significantly quicker rate this year because of the lack of rain. In Ventura County, firefighters say the parched conditions feel like what they typically see in June or July. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which handles fire protection for about a third of the state, said it has dealt with 150 more blazes so far this year compared with 2012.

Cal Fire announced it was deploying fire crews early this year in some areas, including the Inland Empire, because of what it described as "extreme" dry conditions.

Los Angeles has seen only 5.14 inches of rain this year; normal would be 14 inches. Forecasters are increasingly skeptical of any significant storms on the way before summer.

"We're so close to the end of the rainy season and we really rarely get that much rain beyond this point," said David Sweet, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Oxnard.


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