Noting that six people have died in area fires in the past week, Los Angeles County fire Chief Daryl Osby Thursday urged residents who are spending more time at home than usual due to coronavirus to be prepared to react and escape if a blaze erupts.

Osby said six people were killed in four separate fires in Walnut, Pomona and Industry over the past week, including two teenagers, highlighting the need for preparation.

“When I look at statistics as it relates to the NFPA, the National Fire Protection Agency, it says that 70% of fatality fires occur at night, but unfortunately, three out of these four incidents occurred mid-morning or early afternoon,” Osby said.

He pointed to preparation guides available on the department’s website that provide information about how to prevent fires and escape them if they occur.

“It’s important for families to make sure they go through the guides, that they have working smoke detectors, they have exit drills, they know what to do in advance of an incident,” he said. “Because from my perspective as the fire chief, all fire deaths and fatalities are preventable if you take the steps to have working smoke detectors and practice drills at home.”

Osby also said fire agencies are concerned about the onset of summer and fire season, particularly because late-spring rains have led to increased brush growth.

He said crews will begin conducting inspections throughout the county on May 15, with coastal area inspections beginning June 1, to check on brush clearance and other preventive efforts.

“We are concerned about the potential impacts that the COVID-19 may have on our ability to respond to fires,” he said. “And so we’ve been having a lot of meetings and online conversations and training to ensure we do all we can to prevent fires, but if there are fires, we do all that we can to keep them from becoming large incidents.”

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