Wildfire prevention event
Wildfire season may be a few months out, technically, but that won’t stop a spark from setting the parched hillsides afire. With little rain, Ventura County is especially susceptible to a wildfire — and this weekend’s Wildfire Safety Fair promises to give county residents a little peace of mind when it comes to preparedness.

“We want to make it fun rather than your normal scholastic affair,” said Will Castagna, grants manager of the Ojai Valley Fire Safe Council.

The 2014 Wildfire Safety Fair, hosted by the Ojai Valley Fire Safe Council, will feature carnival games and scavenger hunts amid professionals from the California Emergency Rescue Team (CERT), the Ventura County Fire Department and celebrity fire-preventers Smokey the Bear and 10-foot-tall Firefighter Robby.

Castagna says that now more than ever, education and preparedness are very important. Despite recent rains, Ventura County is well below safe water levels. On a chart provided by the Ventura County Fire Department, detailing the average annual moisture measurements on average, Ventura County usually sits nearer to 118 percent saturation for March. But this year, average moisture saturation has barely broken 90 percent in Ojai and only 75 percent in Thousand Oaks.

Critically low moisture saturation would be below 60 percent.

“We’re well below the average and at this point a little bit above the critical level but not that far,” said Castagna. “It’s not like we’re a little bit off, we’re 30 percent off.”

The Ojai Valley Wildfire Safety Fair will take place this Saturday, April 12, from 10 a.m.to 2 p.m. at Sarzotti Park, Ojai. For more information, visit www.firesafeojai.org.

Railway fence a frustration
Some residents of Midtown Ventura aren’t happy with Union Pacific Railroad. After erecting a series of fences along the railway, Union Pacific has run into a plethora of frustrated community members who say that the fencing blocks access to the beach and the railway has erected its fences too high.

In December 2012, the Union Pacific, which operates the railway passing through Ventura, erected fences in Midtown in order to deter trespassers onto the rails. According to city code, however, 6 feet is the maximum height of a fence — and Union Pacific erected the fences at 8 feet. Tonight, the Midtown Ventura City Council will meet with representatives from Union Pacific in hopes of finding a solution.

Union Pacific representatives will meet with the community and speak of the conditional use permits given to the railway to erect the fences, but Mansfield said that he hopes a solution to allow residents to pass through the pathways will be met as well.

“Hopefully, they’re there to meet us in the middle,” said Mansfield.

The Midtown Ventura City Council will meet on Thursday, April 10, at 7 p.m. at Grace Church, 65 MacMillan Ave., Ventura. For more information, visit www.midtownventura.org.