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Arson Watch Now Accepting Volunteer Applications

If you have lived in Topanga for 20 years you have lived here a long time. However, you have not lived here long enough to remember the fire of November 1993. That fire burned for 10 days from the top of Old Topanga Canyon to the coast in Malibu destroying over 300 homes, scorching thousands of acres, and taking the lives of three people.  As you read about wild fires throughout California and the west you may think we are safe and well protected, but if you were here in November 1993 you know we could be next and that it can be devastating.

How is Topanga well protected? First, LA County Fire has worked hard to provide extensive fire fighting capability in Topanga including excellent documentation on prevention and evacuation, regular fire drills, additional resources on Red Flag days, and most recently, a state of the art helipad and water facility called Bravo 69 (http://www.69bravo.com/about/). Additionally, the extensive network of fire roads throughout the Santa Monica Mountains have been groomed and cleared for access if needed. So, if a fire comes, we will be in good hands as far as it goes, but no guarantee against another devastating fire like that of 1993. The best scenario for what has become a year round fire season is prevention. Topanga along with Malibu, Calabasas, Agoura, and Chatsworth has a volunteer organization called Arson Watch. It is a program under the LA County Sheriff's Department which consists of local volunteers who patrol on Red Flag days throughout the Santa Monica mountains. While most folks think of arson as a demented individual purposely starting fires most arson is merely the act of a careless individual. This can be careless smoking, tossing a cigarette from a vehicle, unsafe brush clearing, use of off road vehicles, and electric power line issues. Arson Watch volunteers are trained in what to spot and how to tactfully advise the public regarding dangerous behavior during Red Flag events and how to respond when problems are encountered.

Arson Watch is funded by grants and generous donations from our local communities, but at its core are its volunteers. The average Arson Watch volunteer patrols on Red Flag days and has a minimum requirement of only 30 hours per year. A typical year will have up to a dozen Red Flag days. Patrols are on designated routes and take anywhere from 2-4 hours. If you enjoy driving our beautiful mountain roads and have some time to support our community please contact Arson Watch for application details: Email us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone us at 310-455-4244.  Also, check our website at: www.arsonwatch.com.


1993 Fire Malibu Times 
 Alan Emerson with binoculars 

 Arson Watch Jeep 


 Arson Watch Van



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