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May 19, 2014 8:56 PM by LiLi Tan, KSBY News

'This is really it' - officials on what could be worst fire season on record

Year after year, fire officials tell us to prepare for fire season. This time they say it's more important than ever.

"I'm telling you based on the number of fires we've already bad, based on the extreme drought we're already in, the potential is in fact there for one of the worst fire seasons on record in the state of California," Lompoc Fire Chief Kurt Latipow said.

Latipow describes last week's evacuation during the Miguelito Fire just south of Lompoc as "fair." He says most people were at work, but people were still hesitant to leave their homes.

As county fire departments ready themselves, they say people need to be ready to evacuate at any time. This includes having a "go-bag" containing important documents, identification, medication and treasured items.

"We all sort of get in that habit that we see it on TV and don't really think it can happen here, but here's the reality: It really can happen. And it just happened this last week," Latipow said.

Latipow says hesitating to leave your home could be fatal, as it could leave you trapped.

Lompoc resident Rebekah Arnold says she and her family were not ready to evacuate last week.

"It really made me start thinking that I need to get important paperwork together and family photos we have on an external hard drive. We have a lot of animals," Arnold said.

She says she's heard about wildfires in the past, but never had she felt the gravity of the situation until she could see the flames from her windows.

"It's more concrete. and it's unfortunate that it took something like this to bring it to the forefront of my mind," Arnold said.

The Lompoc Fire Department is having a "Ready, Set, Go" fire preparedness event on June 7 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Lompoc's Home Depot.

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