Arroyo Seco Gets a Grooming to Prevent Fires

Published : Monday, July 15, 2019 | 4:51 AM

Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral Washington (at microphone) talks to media about fire safety in the Arroyo earlier this month during an operation which saw the application of Phos-Chek as a means to prevent fireworks-related blazes. Photo by James Carbone.

It’s important to recall, now and again, that the “seco” in Arroyo Seco means “dry” in Old Castilian.

The City of Pasadena apparently needs no help in translation. Spraying, weed and brush clearance, and homeless encampment cleanup, are all tools employed of late in its efforts to keep the Arroyo seco instead of crispy.

The Department of Public Works (DPW) and Pasadena Fire Chief both discussed fire abatement efforts at the popular local destination. Their remarks were included in the City Manager’s weekly newsletter on successive weeks.

The Department of Public Works oversees contracted brush and weed abatement work on a daily basis, year-round. The idea is to reduce fire threats from these “natural fuels,” as they say in the business.

Joined by Fire Department officials, DPW reps assess field conditions, review what needs to be done and determine the resources to do it.

Lately, the lifting has gotten a little heavier.

According to the City Manager’s weekly newsletter for June 27, Public Works Director Ara Maloyan reported that, “Unusually wet season weather conditions experienced earlier, coupled with the City’s decision not to use pesticides in the Arroyo have resulted in an increase in weed growth.”

That has led to the use of contingency funds to pay for weekend work.

The lower Arroyo, central Arroyo, and Hahamongna Watershed Park have had work done, but crews will probably return given the reemergence of weeds. Their focus would be on places of congregation, trails, and parkland structures.

The Fire Department will employ up to 12 students through the City Rose Program to help in the clearance drive.

When bird nesting season ends in September, a second dead wood and brush abatement project in the stream bed will begin.

The Fire Department has its own independent efforts underway and Chief Bertral Washington discussed them in the City Manager’s July 3 weekly newsletter.

They included some 4,000 hazardous vegetation inspections on residential homes. These are located in areas close to wildlands, or in the “urban interface,” as they say in the business.

The program appears to be working with the Fire Department stating that 99 percent of homes inspected are in compliance with vegetation management ordinances.

There are less than 100 homes awaiting re-inspection for compliance certification.

The July 3 spraying of Phos-Chek at the Rose Bowl, and in the lower arroyo, in advance of the AmericaFest fireworks show are expected to be helpful fire prevention measures.

DPW’s Maloyan also reported on the recent clearance of a homeless encampment that left 120 cubic yards of trash and biohazardous material behind.

The cleanup project was done in coordination with L.A. County’s Eaton Canyon Flood Control staff.

The operation was completed over a three-day period with a four-person crew working regular shifts. The result is a revived equestrian trail and overpass structure free of homeless activity and the resulting detritus.

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