Glendale and Burbank are rife with such fuel — they're surrounded by it.
To the north are the foothills and the Verdugo mountains, both with the capacity to burn and burn. And to the south is Griffith Park and the Hollywood Hills.
We've seen it before.
Past fires burned in conditions not as dry as this year. Imagine a fire now — in a region that this year has received an amount of rainfall only slightly greater than Death Valley's.
Burbank Fire officials canceled this year's fireworks show at the Starlight Bowl after finding that moisture levels were simply too low and that vegetation was too dry. The recent Griffith Park fire proved that local conditions are there for such blazes, and as fire officials pointed out, we're not even in the severest of conditions yet.
It's not only local hillsides we should worry about.
The fire on Sunday that torched more than 40 cars owned by Glendale Star Chrysler wasn't on a hill. It was right smack in the city. And that has firefighters concerned. Regardless of whether it turns out that the fire was the result of arson, officials say that it offered an example of how flatland areas are tinder-dry and are extra vulnerable to catching fire.
In a normal season, for instance, embers from the Griffith Park fire would have landed on rooftops and burned out. But the reality this year was that they landed and started spot fires.
The bottom line is, as we march into the summer, it's a time to be extra aware of the dangers presented by such a dry season.
We need to have understanding when it comes to decisions such as Burbank's to cancel the fireworks show. And beyond that, we must do what can be done to minimize the risk — storing flammables in safe spots, clearing brush away from homes, clearing dead branches, leaves and rubbish, and being especially careful with cigarettes and open flames.
In the end, you might think that no one person can stop a brush fire. But collectively, the region will be a lot safer if people do what they can to reduce the risk.