Wet Southern California October helps prevent wildfires

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If the drizzle’s dampening your mood, compare this Southland October to typical ones. Often at this time of year, it seems the whole region is a tinderbox.

Weather forecasters and emergency responders dubbed it the firestorm of 2003. Through the autumn, more than a dozen wildfires consumed hundreds of thousands of acres from Simi Valley to San Diego County.

The largest was the Cedar Fire in the Cleveland National Forest near Ramona. It killed 15 people and prompted thousands of others to flee their homes before firefighters contained it in early November.

Another series of wildfires from Santa Barbara southward broke out in October three years ago. Nine people died and 61 firefighters sustained injuries.

That time around, officials ordered a million people to evacuate. Blistering dry Santa Ana winds typical for this time of year propelled all those fires.

This month, the wind is making its presence felt again, but only after a spate of fast-moving storms that’s kept forests and brush just wet enough to ward off the wildfire threat & dash; at least for a while.