San Bernardino, CA, September 23, 2011, 3:00pm – The extreme fire hazard potential that exists across San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire grows with the arrival of the Santa Ana winds. The “Devil Winds” as they are known, race through Southern California primarily during the months of October through December. However, it’s not unusual to experience Santa Ana winds as early as September or as late as February. Many of Southern California’s most disastrous fires have been driven by strong, dry Santa Ana winds. CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Chief Tim McClelland says fire safety needs to be on the mind of all the residents of San Bernardino County and the Inland Empire, especially those in the mountains and wildland areas. Residents need to maintain a fire safe clearance of a minimum of 100 feet around all structures or to the property line. Even if you did your clearance in the spring, you should give the property a once over so you have good defensible space around your structures. This defensible space provides firefighters the area they need to mount an effective defense of your home. Chief McClelland says it is also very important for residents in the mountain and wildland areas to pay attention to suspicious actions. If you see something suspicious or a person acting suspiciously report it to CAL FIRE, your local fire department or law enforcement agency. It could be an arsonist. If you see a fire, no matter what size, report it to the nearest fire department or call “911”. Don’t assume that another person made the call. The quicker the public reports a fire, the faster firefighters can respond. And remember, if you have information about how a fire started, report it to the fire department or law enforcement.