VENTURA (CBS) — Fire officials have officially opened the wildfire season for 2011 — and despite all the rain this year, they’re warning of one for the record books.

Fire Captain Ron Oatman told KNX 1070 that homeowners should start preparing now for the hot, dry weather that will be coming to the Southland.

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“Every year we say ‘This could be the worst fire season ever’, but it really is true this year,” said Oatman.

“This year, we had a lot of rain, and that definitely helped us quite a bit,” he continued. “But you’ve seen all the green grass that’s grown, and that green grass is already turning brown.”

Among the biggest challenges for firefighters is complacency: Oatman equates the preparation for fire season to the reaction after experiencing an earthquake.

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“Every time the earth moves a little bit, we all run out and prepare ourselves,” said Oatman.

The department is teaching residents to take preventative measures ahead of the hot weather, with steps such as clearing brush 100 feet from defensible space and trimming tree branches at least 10 feet away from the roof of your home.

Ventura County in particular has difficult geography for firefighters, but Oatman said the threat extends to homeowners across all of Southern California, not just those near traditional burn areas.

“Just because you don’t have wild land backing right up to your home doesn’t mean that you’re not in danger,” said Oatman.

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“Embers can blow up to a mile away from where the actual fire is, and those embers start landing in neighborhoods,” he added.