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County Fire

County Fire: Holiday decoration safety alert

Christmas tree with presents and fireplace with stockings

With the holiday season upon us, the San Bernardino County Fire Department would like to remind you of the following holiday decorating and natural Christmas tree safety tips.


Before you put up any electrically lighted decorations, you should check the equipment to make sure it will operate safely.  Check for burned-out lights, empty sockets and broken bulbs. Inspect wires carefully for breaks, fraying and damaged connections before energizing your holiday decorations.  Any damaged strands of lights should be thrown out.


Both can be enjoyed safely.  If you use an artificial tree, make sure it is made of safe, fireproof materials.  If your artificial tree is pre-lit, make sure you test the tree and check all electrical cords and connectors for damage, fraying or broken parts before using the tree.  On a pre-lit tree, check carefully for burnt-out, broken or damaged light sockets.  Damaged equipment should be replaced or repaired before using the tree.


If you use a natural tree, make a fresh 1-inch cut at the base to open up pores clogged by sap.  The fresh cut surface should be creamy-white so that the tree will be able to drink water.


For a natural tree, choose a sturdy stand that holds at least one gallon of water.  Rinse the stand with a mixture of one capful of bleach and one cup of water before inserting the tree.  This rinsing reduces the growth of microorganisms that can block the tree’s ability to absorb water.  If the tree is not going into the house soon after purchase, it should be stored in a bucket of water in a cool place away from wind and sun.


An average natural tree may consume between a quart and a gallon of water per day.  If the water level drops below the cut end of the trunk, a seal will form and no more water will be absorbed- SO DON’T FORGET TO WATER THE TREE EVERY DAY!


Miniature lights produce less heat and reduce drying on a natural tree.  Always check lights for frayed or cracked wiring and broken sockets before placing on a tree.  Do not attempt to repair a worn light—throw it away!  Turn off tree lights when leaving the house or before going to bed.  Avoid overloading circuits. Plug no more than three light sets into a single outlet.


Place the tree away from heat sources: heating vents, fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, T.V. sets, or sunny windows.  Keep rearranged furniture away from heat sources as well. Be careful not to block a door with the tree or with rearranged furniture.


After the holidays, remove a natural tree from the house as soon as possible.  Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace; it burns too fast and is explosive!  The best alternative is to RECYCLE your tree through your local city or county program.

Have an enjoyable and SAFE holiday season!


County Fire: Be safe with fireplaces, heating devices

Rustic Living RoomFall weather sometimes brings the need for home heating, and a little extra help from a fireplace or a space heater. Unfortunately, accidents involving fireplaces and heating equipment are a major cause of preventable home fires. County Fire urges residents to keep safe while they keep warm.  Following are some cool weather safety tips to help you stay warm safely.

Fire Safety Tips for Fireplaces and Other Heating Devices

  • Before the cold weather arrives, change furnace filters to keep equipment running efficiently and safely.
  • Place all space heaters at least three feet away from furniture, walls, curtains, or anything that burns. Make sure to turn them off when you leave home or go to bed.  Contact the Gas Company or a heating contractor if you suspect that your heater is not functioning properly.
  • Check thermostats to make sure the furnace doesn’t turn itself on before you’re ready for it, and give yourself time to check furnace vents, especially floor vents, to make sure they’re not blocked.  Furniture and drapes placed over heating vents can sometimes catch fire.
  • Never install unvented gas heaters in bedrooms or bathrooms, where the small room size poses an added danger of rapid carbon monoxide build-up.
  • Have your chimneys inspected and cleaned by a professional before each heating season and have it cleaned regularly.
  • Be sure to have a proper spark arrester on all chimney tops to prevent burning embers from blowing out of the top of the chimney and starting a fire on your roof or a neighbor’s. Screens should have openings of no more than a half-inch—a quarter-inch if you live next to a wilderness area. If you have a manufactured fireplace, check with the manufacturer for installation requirements before placing anything on top of the fireplace.
  • Never use a fireplace during high winds, especially if you have a wood shake roof.
  • Make sure tree branches are cleared at least 10 feet from the chimney opening.
  • Store paper, kindling, and other flammable material at least three feet from the fireplace.
  • Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container.  Cardboard boxes, paper bags, and plastic containers quickly catch fire.  Even apparently cool ashes may contain enough heat to ignite these containers.
  • Be sure that you have a fireplace screen large enough to block flying embers and rolling logs from escaping onto your floor.
  • Never burn trash, paper, or green wood in your fireplace.  These materials cause a combustible build-up on the lining of your fireplace that may eventually catch fire, possibly damaging the chimney and threatening your home.
  • Make sure that any fireplace fires are completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Remember, never use a charcoal-burning barbecue or heater indoors!  When burned indoors, charcoal produces deadly amounts of carbon monoxide gas that is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. Charcoal-burning devices are for outdoor use only!

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Muscoy explosion kills 1, injures 2

muscoyexplosionFirefighters responded to numerous reports of an ‘explosion in the area’ of Gray St. in Muscoy about 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Additional reports began filtering in that a house was damaged from an explosion and people were trapped.   Upon arrival, bystanders flagged firefighters down and pointed them toward a home that was partially destroyed by the blast.  The incident was upgraded and other resources were dispatched, including the department’s heavy rescue or USAR team.

On arrival the first due engine company from station 75 in Muscoy found a rear house with severe damage.   One adult male was outside and suffering from severe burn injuries, another adult female was still inside suffering from blunt force trauma and significant head injury.  She was partially covered by debris and was extricated by the rescue team.  Both were transported to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton with critical injuries. After further checking, another adult male was discovered and found to be deceased and trapped under several tons of debris.  Firefighters would work for the next several hours to remove the debris, consisting of reinforced concrete and other material, and remove the body.

The burn injuries were incurred from the flash fire caused by the explosion. There was no fire to the structure.  The blast was so significant that the freshly paved road in the front of the surrounding homes actually buckled in several places. The home was of poor construction and also had a small basement.  This basement is where most of the damage occurred with the house collapsing into the area.

County Fire Investigators and Sheriff Investigators determined that natural gas did not cause the explosion as originally thought.  It was later determined the explosion was from illegal drug activity.

No other homes had any damage and no evacuations were necessary as the surrounding area was deemed safe.  The county fire department was assisted by the San Bernardino City Fire Department, American Medical Response and the gas company.

County Fire reminds you to make sure your home is clearly marked with address numbers and visible from the street; assisting public safety in finding your location quickly during an emergency.

County honored with state, national awards in 2014

Members of the County Sheriff and Fire departments accept their award from CSAC.

Members of the County Sheriff and Fire departments accept their award from CSAC.

Teaching homeowners to prevent fires around their homes, training inmates to fight wildfires and working to end human trafficking are three innovative County programs honored today by the California State Association of Counties.

California State Association of Counties Associate Legislative Representative Cara Martinson appeared at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting to deliver the three 2014 CSAC Challenge Awards to the Land Use Services Department, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the County Fire Department, and the District Attorney’s Office.

“These awards demonstrate our County’s commitment to developing new and innovative approaches to enhancing public safety,” San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Rutherford said.

The CSAC Challenge Awards are part of a highly competitive recognition program that honors the best and most innovative among California’s 58 counties.

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Fatal plane crash in Fawnskin

countyfireFirefighters responded to a report of a small plane down near the Grout Bay picnic area in Fawnskin about 10:45 a.m. today.

San Bernardino County firefighters from Station 96 in Fawnskin arrived on scene minutes later, where they located a small, single-engine aircraft that had crashed in the dry lake bed (known as Grout Bay) near the picnic area.

Firefighters were able to reach the pilot quickly, however the adult male pilot and sole occupant had already succumbed to his injuries. The pilot had taken off from the Big Bear Airport. It is unknown where the pilot was headed.

The cause of the crash is being investigated by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, the National Transportation Bureau and the Federal Aviation Administration. The San Bernardino County Sheriff/Coroner’s Office will release the name of the deceased once proper notification has been made.

Open House at Fire Station 71 in Fontana for Fire Prevention Week

countyfireOn Saturday, Oct. 11, the San Bernardino County Fire Department will host an open house event at Fire Station 71, located at 16380 Arrow Blvd. in Fontana, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Games, prizes, and snacks will be available for all as well as many other fun activities.

The event is held every year in connection with Fire Prevention Week, which has as its theme this year “Smoke Alarms Save Lives – Test Yours Every Month!” Fire Prevention Week has been observed by fire departments around the nation for decades.

Residents and families in the community will be able to get information on how to protect themselves in the event of a fire in their home, how to test their smoke alarms, demonstrations with our Fire Safety trailer on practicing exit drills in the home, and an up close tour of fire engines and our newest fire station. A limited amount of smoke alarms will be distributed at no cost to those who may have a need for them.

For information on Fire Prevention Week and home fire safety tips, please visit


The Great California ShakeOut is two weeks away!

ShakeOut_CA_GetReady_300x250Join over half a million people who live and work in San Bernardino County who will practice how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On at 10:16 a.m. on October 16 during the Great California ShakeOut Earthquake Drill.
What can you do in the next two weeks to be better prepared?
Click here for a flyer to familiarize yourself with what to do when the shaking starts.
If you, or a member of your household, are a person with a disability or have access or functional needs, Click here for other tips and things to consider during an earthquake.
Register your family here as ShakeOut participants.
Click here for more information on the ShakeOut in San Bernardino County.

Speak with your household about how to prepare, survive and recover from the next major earthquake.

County Fire: Working smoke alarms save lives!

smokedetectorWorking smoke alarms can make a life-saving difference in a fire. That’s the message behind this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!” Along with firefighters and safety advocates nationwide, San Bernardino County Fire Department is joining forces with the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) during Fire Prevention Week, October 5-11, to remind local residents about the importance of having working smoke alarms in the home and testing them monthly.

According to the latest NFPA research, working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire in half. Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

“In a fire, seconds count,” says Mike Horton, San Bernardino County Fire Marshal. “Roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires reported at night between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep. Home smoke alarms can alert people to a fire before it spreads, giving everyone enough time to get out.” This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign includes the following smoke alarm messages:

• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement or understory.
• Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. This way, when one activates, they all sound the alarm.
• Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
• Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner if they don’t respond properly.
• Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and understands what to do when they hear it.

San Bernardino County Fire Department will be hosting activities throughout the County during Fire Prevention Week to promote “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives!” Through these educational, family-oriented activities, residents can learn more about the importance of working smoke alarms and testing them monthly. San Bernardino County Fire Department reminds residents that when they change batteries in any of their household equipment to take them to a collection facility instead of placing them in the trash. For facility locations go to our website, To find out more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities, or general safety information, please visit our website at

County fire implements Red Flag Warning program

redflagAs Santa Ana winds and the possibility of wildfires loom on the horizon, the San Bernardino County Fire Department held a press conference on Monday to discuss the new Red Flag Warning program.

In an effort to promote wildfire readiness within San Bernardino County, County Fire has implemented the Red Flag Community Notification program. When conditions for extreme fire danger arise and the National Weather Service posts a Fire Weather Watch or a Red Flag Warning, residents will see a red flag flown below the American flag at all County Fire stations within the affected area.  Residents will then know to prepare by focusing on preparation and prevention in and around their homes.

“The Red Flag Warning program is designed to enhance public safety by providing a visual reminder that extreme fire conditions are predicted or present.” Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said.  “This program is another tool in reaching out to communities during Red Flag Warnings and asking them to take extra precautions.”

Deputy Chief Jim Johnstone reiterated that County Fire is poised and prepared to defend life and property within the county.  He said, “San Bernardino County Fire has an arsenal of resources readily available. These include our specialized firefighting workforce, gel task force, dozers, hand crews, and a partnership with the Sheriff’s Department for water dropping helicopters.” County Fire continuously monitors all factors that contribute to the potential for large and damaging wildfires and staff our resources accordingly.

Along with the Red Flag Warning program, the Chiefs discussed other prevention tools such as the Ready! Set! Go! program. “This program is about helping residents understand how their home’s location, surrounding vegetation, construction elements, and other factors place them at risk during a wildfire.” Fire Marshal Mike Horton said.  Defensible space, disaster plans, and evacuation preparedness all make up the Ready! Set! Go! program to help citizens protect themselves and their family.

County Fire asks that you be our eyes and ears, our lookouts. If you see smoke or someone doing something that potentially can start a fire, call 9-1-1 and report it immediately. One spark is all it takes to start a devastating wildfire, especially during a Red Flag warning.  Learn how you can be prepared, visit our website at

Courtesy photos from Monday’s press conference can be located at under latest news.

Earthquake myth: The earth will open up and swallow you

Drop Cover and Hold OnYou’ve seen earthquakes depicted in movies where the ground opens up and swallows people and cars and homes into a large, gaping hole.

That’s just a myth.

The ground moves across a fault during an earthquake, not away from it, according to the Earthquake Country Alliance. If the fault could open up and devour people and objects, there wouldn’t be any friction meaning there wouldn’t be an earthquake.

There’s no doubt earthquakes are dangerous. Get more information about earthquakes at before the next earthquake hits so you can be prepared.

Don’t forget to register at for the Great California Shakeout at 10:16 a.m. on October 16, 2014.

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