ELYSIAN PARK (CBSLA) – Amid devastating fires in Northern California, fire crews in SoCal are reminding homeowners to clear out brush as the area remains under extreme fire conditions.

“This stuff will burn through here really quickly and push up into the eucalyptus trees,” said David Ortiz, with the Los Angeles Fire Department, said of the dry brush near homes in Elysian Park, vegetation similar to what many of the hillsides in Southern California look like as a result of the ongoing drought.

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Across the state, there are 15 wildfires burning, so LAFD is reminding homeowners, especially those that live in fire-prone areas, to cut back overgrown trees and do brush clearance around their homes.

(credit: CBS)

“People who live with this stuff behind their homes to be prepared,” Ortiz said. “They have to make sure they maintain that defensive space. If they do their part in maintaining that defensive space, then that helps us do our part.”

Fire officials, according to Ortiz, are concerned about areas like Elysian Park that, historically, have burned over the years. He said the department and residents were surprised by the Pacific Palisades fire back in May because it started in an area that hadn’t burned in decades.

“The Palisades was a surprising fire because the factors that we normally expect for extreme fire behavior were not there, and so we are finding all these areas we’ve done a good job putting fires out, in decades in the past, are starting to burn now,” Ortiz said.

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With no end to the drought in sight, Ortiz said that residents should not let their guards down.

Luis Rodriguez, a homeowner in Elysian Park, said that being prepared comes with the territory of living close to a hillside.

“I have a tendency to always cut around 100-150 feet perimeter within my house. My backyard is the park area, so I have to be very vigilant about that,” he said.

As a preventive measure, the Forest Service said it’s closing all the national forests starting Aug. 31 through Sept. 17 to decrease the chances of wildfires breaking out.

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