As the LA times reported, more than 150 firefighters battled a 55-acre brush fire in Brentwood this past holiday weekend that was sparked (yet again) by an overheated weed whacker. Ten fires have broken out across the Santa Monica Mountains, Ventura County, and elsewhere since mid-May; and 50% of them were caused by improperly used or maintained weed whackers.

This year Southern California has unusually high amounts of vegetation due to the very heavy winter storms. This vegetation is now drying and highly flammable – and, ironically, even as people start to clear their brush to prevent summer fires, they are setting the brush ablaze with sparks from weed whackers.

We are happy to present a MUST DO list below and strongly urge all County residents to take extra precautions this year when using weed whackers and to use and maintain their equipment properly. This is important! Please share these guidelines with your contractors and gardeners too:

  1. Have your weed whacker professionally checked and tuned before use, especially if it’s been in storage.
  2. Make sure there are no gas leaks (leakage caused a 3-acre fire).
  3. Take breaks so the motor does not become overheated (overheating caused a 55-acre fire).
  4. Use plastic blades or nylon strings instead of metal blades. Sparks are caused by metal blades hitting rocks.
  5. If you must use a metal blade, clear rocks before you begin cutting or avoid them as much as possible to prevent sparks.
  6. Cut in the cooler parts of the day (morning, evening, or overcast).
  7. ALWAYS have a water source or fire extinguisher close by to put out sparks and blazes immediately!!!

To paraphrase Smokey the Bear…Only YOU can prevent weed whacker fires!