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Fire Season Starts Early in California

Fire Season Starts Early in Californiai
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May 04, 2013
Firefighters are working to prevent brush fires on the California coast near Los Angeles from advancing. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports the blazes are threatening thousands of homes and mark an early start to what authorities say could be a bad fire season.

Fire Season Starts Early in California

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Mike O'Sullivan
— Firefighters are battling advancing brush fires on the California coast near Los Angeles. The blazes are threatening thousands of homes and mark an early start to what authorities say could be a bad fire season.

For the second day, firefighters near Camarillo, northwest of Los Angeles, coped with shifting winds as they fought to contain a wildfire.  By Friday, the blaze had scorched more than 4,000 hectares of brush land and damaged 15 homes.  

Ventura County firefighter Tony McHale said dry weather has brought an early fire season.

“It will probably be a very busy fire season throughout the West. It's been a very dry spring. We've already been getting a lot of [fire] starts very early in the fire season. Here we are in May. There have been a number of incidents here in California,” said McHale.

More than 900 firefighters have brought in heavy equipment as they tackle the blazes from the ground and air.

The American Red Cross is offering help to those displaced from their homes, said Jim McGee, who heads the organization’s regional office. The Red Cross has opened three emergency shelters.

“People that need shelter, food, clothing, in some cases emotional support. We have nurses on site here helping people deal with the trauma of this emergency,” said McGee.

One emergency shelter is set up in a local church, called Calvary Chapel Nexus, and its pastor, Robb Oram, said the community is helping.

“Most of the time we watch the news, we watch it happen to other people, but it was really beautiful to see how with this event, the community really came together. We had people coming out of the woodwork to offer food and donations and volunteer to come and help. And in a way, I think it really kind of knit our community together,” said Oram.

Firefighters remain at the mercy of the weather, though, as they battle a brush fire that is still far from contained.

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