PRIVATE EYES KEEP WATCH FOR ARSONISTS; VOLUNTEERS HELP SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES PATROL WILD HILLS.Byline: David Greenberg The creator of this article, or someone who has substantially contributed to it, may have a conflict of interest regarding its subject matter.
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The 185-square-mile Santa Monica Mountains The Santa Monica Mountains are a low transverse range in southern California in the United States. Geography
They run for approximately 40 mi (64 km) east-west from the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles to Point Mugu in Ventura County. area is once again under the watchful eye of a volunteer fire-prevention group, headed by a former actor who has endured his share of close calls with out-of-control blazes.
Allen Emerson witnessed fires in Laurel Canyon Laurel Canyon can refer to several things:
``Almost every place I've lived, I've been near a major fire,'' he said. ``I realize that people who live in this geographical area are very vulnerable to major wildfires. This is what you have to deal with and take precautions to protect yourself.''
With the fire season under way, Emerson and 160 volunteers in the Arson Watch group have embarked on their 17th season of patrolling the area, searching for fires in their early stages and looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. the people who set them.
The group was formed in 1982, when actor Buddy Ebsen Buddy Ebsen (April 2, 1908 – July 6, 2003) was an American actor and dancer, who is best-remembered for his role as Jed Clampett in the popular television series The Beverly Hillbillies. Early years
Born Christian Rudolf Ebsen, Jr. - best known as Jed Clampett in the 1960s TV series ``The Beverly Hillbillies'' - organized a homeowners meeting after the Dayton Canyon Fire was deliberately set and destroyed more than 100 homes.
Despite living 12 miles from Topanga, Emerson volunteered to run the organization, which is sponsored by the Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. County Sheriff Department's Lost Hills Station.
``When there's a fire of that magnitude, it affects the psyche of everyone who lives in the Santa Monica Mountains,'' Emerson said.
Armed with binoculars, flashlights, monogrammed traffic-control vests and two-way radios A voice network that provides an always-on connection enabling the user to just "push the button and talk." Also called "dispatch radio," two-way radio has traditionally been used by police, fire, taxi and other mobile fleets. , volunteers patrol the peaks and gullies of Malibu, Calabasas, Topanga, Agoura and Chatsworth.
During ``red flag'' days - when temperatures rise, winds increase and humidity drops - half the entire group goes on volunteer duty.
``That would be great if we could spot every fire that (just) started,'' said Frank Kelly, a retired truck driver and 16-year volunteer. ``But we prevent many fires from starting. Our presence discourages arsonists.''
The crews communicate with one of several volunteer dispatch operators who then telephone police and fire departments.
Volunteers are particularly concerned about smoldering smol·der also smoul·der
intr.v. smol·dered, smol·der·ing, smol·ders
1. To burn with little smoke and no flame.
2. cigarettes, illegal campfires and matches or fireworks fireworks: see pyrotechnics.
Explosives or combustibles used for display. Of ancient Chinese origin, fireworks evidently developed out of military rockets and explosive missiles and accompanied the spread of military explosives westward to in children's hands.
The group, which is not allowed to confront members of the public, writes down license plates of suspicious vehicles and provides leads for investigators if a fire erupts in the area.
``They are extra eyes and ears out there for us in the field,'' said sheriff's Deputy Shawn Brownell. Speedy notification ``could mean the difference whether 1,000 acres burn or 10 acres burn,'' Brownell said. ``It's a very good asset for us.''
Arson Watch volunteers logged 6,059 hours on patrol from July through December last year. Most members donated at least 16 hours a week, records show.
Civic organizations and law enforcement agencies A law enforcement agency (LEA) is a term used to describe any agency which enforces the law. This may be a local or state police, federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). supply the group with an annual budget of $9,000 to $10,000 for equipment.
Costs are kept down because volunteers use their own vehicles and pay for their own gasoline and car maintenance costs. Lack of reimbursement never deters the volunteers.
``I'm protecting my own property and other people's,'' said Paul Plotkin, a volunteer since 1992. ``I don't want to see people put out of their homes by a fire. When you lose your house, your valuables and mementos, it hurts life.''
PHOTO (1--Color--Ran in Conejo and Simi Editions only) A sign under a fire-hazard notice points out that this dry area in Agoura is part of the 185-square-mile region patrolled by 160 radio-equipped volunteers in Arson Watch.
(2--Color--Ran in Conejo and Simi Editions only) Mark Rackow, the Agoura team leader for Arson Watch, and others on patrol use two-way radios and volunteer dispatchers.
(3--Color--Ran in Conejo and Simi Editions only) Discussing assignments, Arson Watch team leaders, from left, Allen Emerson, Bob Maughmer, Mark Rackow and Hank Koslov look at a map of fire-hazard areas.
Lilly Barrett/Special to the Daily News