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Be ready Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Sep 11 2010 12:00 PM

Over the course of the last decade, Southern Californians have become conditioned to greeting the end of summer with an anxious trepidation.

While the unoffcial end of summer signals an end to the frivolity of family vacations and sick days at the beach, one possible cause of subtle angst is the impending start of fire season.

In 2003 and 2007, San Diego County was surounded by wildfires.

During the day the air was often filled with the smoky aroma of ash. At night, the soft warm glow of out-of-control wildfires could be seen in virtually any direction as residents from Julian to Scripps Ranch to Eastlake were told to prepare for evacuations.

In many parts of the county homes burned to the ground, lives were lost. Chula Vista and National City, fortunately, escaped relatively unscathed.

The region's naturally dry climate coupled with ongoing drought conditions make the parched lanscapes around us excellent kindling.

If you spice up that recipe for natural disaster with the Santa Ana winds that blow fires from one hillside to the next, it's no wonder you have homeowners and residents who are pensive when September and October roll around.

What's perhaps most frustrating to everyone is that once a wildfire gets going, there's not much the average person can do: you just keep your eyes on the news and hope that the men and women who have trained for fighting fires have the resources and manpower to save your home.

Fire officials throughout the year preach the importance of cutting back brush from homes. They also urge residents to have an emergency kit on hand as well as an evacuation plan.

It's pragmatic counsel. And given that when a wildfire gets going there's nothing you or I can do to stop its course, at least having prepared beforehand gives us a sense of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.

***

Over the last week or so e-mails and text messages have been zipping back and forth as news of Chula Visa Councilman Steve Castaneda's marriage to Union-Tribune reporter Tanya Mannes has been making the rounds.

So what do you think? Does the merger mark the union of two of America's most trusted professions, journalist and politician?

Of course it does.

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