Topanga Arson Watch Seeking Volunteers

The Canyon ChronicleBy The Canyon Chronicle      July 8, 2022

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Topanga Arson Watch Seeking Volunteers
Residents were ordered to evacuate during the Palisades Fire in May 2021.
If you have lived in Topanga for 25 years you have lived here a long time. However, you have not lived here long enough to remember the fire of November 1993. That fire burned for 10 days from the top of Old Topanga Canyon to the coast in Malibu destroying over 300 homes, scorching thousands of acres and taking the lives of three people. Sound familiar? The recent Woolsey fire that swept into Malibu in 2018 was even worse. As you read about wild fires throughout California and the west, you may think we are safe and well protected, but if you were here in November 1993 or 2018 you know what danger we face living in Topanga. Topanga is well protected but... First, LA County Fire has worked hard to provide extensive firefighting capability in Topanga and its environs including excellent documentation on prevention and evacuation (“Ready. Set. Go!” handbook, INSERT WEBSITE), regular fire drills, additional resources on Red Flag days, and most recently, 69 Bravo, a state-of-the-art helistop and water resource that can simultaneously supply four firefighting helicopter tankers ( Additionally, the extensive network of fire roads throughout the Santa Monica Mountains have been groomed and cleared for access if a fire comes. That’s all good news, but don’t get complacent. There is no guarantee against another devastating fire like those of 1993 or 2018 and Topangans must be ever alert to the probability of fire. The best scenario for what has become a year-round fire season is prevention. Topanga, along with Malibu, Calabasas, Agoura, and Chatsworth, has a volunteer organization called Arson Watch. It is a program under the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department which consists of local volunteers who patrol on Red Flag days throughout the Santa Monica mountains. While most folks think of arson as a demented individual purposely starting fires, most arson is merely the act of a careless individual. This can be careless smoking, tossing a cigarette from a vehicle, unsafe brush clearing, use of off-road vehicles, or electric power line issues. Arson Watch volunteers are trained in what to spot and how to tactfully advise the public regarding dangerous behaviors during Red Flag events and how to respond when problems are encountered. Arson Watch is funded by grants and generous donations from our local communities, but at its core are its volunteers. The average Arson Watch volunteer patrols on Red Flag days and has a minimum requirement of only 30 hours per year. A typical year will have up to a dozen Red Flag events. Patrols are on designated routes and take anywhere from two to four hours. Additionally, your hours count towards maintaining our status as a Firewise community which saves money on your fire insurance. If you enjoy our beautiful mountain roads and have some time to support your community please contact Arson Watch for application details:;
The Canyon Chronicle
      July 8, 2022

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