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August 2, 2008 | Bettina Boxall, Times Staff Writer
Jon keeley is standing on a dirt road in western Riverside County, looking out across the Box Springs Mountains. Instead of a thick coat of native shrubs, the slopes are covered with a shriveled tangle of mustard, wild oats and red brome. Too much fire is the culprit. Since 1957, there have been 33 fires larger than 100 acres in the Box Springs -- more than the area's native coastal sage and chaparral could withstand.
June 14, 2008 | Jia-Rui Chong
The ferocity of the Universal Studios blaze earlier this month stemmed mostly from the high flammability of the movie lot's sets and not from the flow of water to hoses and other firefighting equipment, according to a review by the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the county Department of Public Works. "The problem was related to the fuel," county Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman said at a news conference Friday. The set facades were built almost entirely of wood and plastic, and therefore were 95% combustible, Freeman said.
June 4, 2008 | Andrew Blankstein, Times Staff Writer
With highly flammable heavy timber and plastics, close quarters, constant construction and use of open flames and pyrotechnics, movie studios have long been considered especially vulnerable for the types of fires that swept across the Universal Studios lot. Back in 1952, when an eight-acre chunk of the Warner Bros. back lot erupted in flames, Burt Lancaster, Ray Bolger and other actors were pressed into service to help firefighters battle the blaze.
May 10, 2008 | Michael Rothfeld, Times Staff Writer
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday urged California property owners to follow his example and prepare for fire season by bringing in experts to examine their homes, saying he had just learned that his own family was "living in the middle of" a fire hazard.
March 14, 2008 | Tony Barboza, Times Staff Writer
Broken fire alarms at nearly a dozen buildings at Santa Ana College went unrepaired for more than two years because of miscommunication and a can't-someone-else-do-it mentality, and because officials did not declare an emergency to fix the antiquated system, an investigation by a law firm found. "Everybody thought it was someone else's responsibility," said Eddie Hernandez, chancellor of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.
March 2, 2008 | Mike Anton, Times Staff Writer
Recent downpours have turned Orange County foothills charred by October's ferocious Santiago fire a vivid emerald green. From a distance, the explosion of life offers a powerful testament to nature's resilience. Up close, it also provides a worrisome omen for the months ahead.
February 17, 2008 | Jonathan Diamond, Special to The Times
New state building code regulations aimed at protecting homes in wildfires are expected to result in a modest increase in construction costs. The new codes, which went into effect Jan. 1 in the 31 million acres of privately owned wild lands served by the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), will become effective July 1 in municipalities served by their own fire departments.
February 17, 2008 | From Times Wires Services
As a warning against overcharging toys with lithium batteries, a government safety agency said there have been dozens of recent reports of remote-controlled helicopters catching fire while being charged. Rechargeable lithium batteries are increasingly used in toys, but overcharging the batteries, which hold a lot of energy in a small package, can result in overheating, fire or an explosion, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said. Citing minor incidents of burns and property damage, the agency said there were 26 reports since November 2007 of remote-controlled helicopters igniting while being charged and one report of a toy helicopter igniting during flight.
January 26, 2008 | Hector Becerra, Times Staff Writer
Three months after massive brush fires burned hundreds of homes across Southern California, a blue-ribbon task force on Friday made dozens of recommendations aimed at improving the response to large-scale blazes. But many of the proposed measures are similar to those made after the devastating wildfires of 2003 -- and many of those were never implemented because there was no money available.
January 15, 2008 | Dan Weikel, Times Staff Writer
Federal officials Monday disclosed a variety of lapses at the San Onofre nuclear power plant near San Clemente, including a worker who falsified records for more than five years to show that operators made hourly fire patrols when they had not. As a result, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered Southern California Edison to develop a training program for employees, including ethics courses for managers and contractors as well as classes for plant staff to prevent deliberate misconduct.
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