RIVERSIDE, Calif. -

Dry weather and an ongoing drought in Southern California are putting fire departments all over Southern California on high alert for a dangerous and active fire season. "It's not a matter of if this is going to happen, it's a matter of when" said Rancho Cucamonga fire chief Mike Bell.  

Chiefs from Riverside and San Bernardino counties came together to discuss plans on how to handle the impending season.  "If we have fires, the potential for them to become large fires and have extreme fire behavior is very real this year," said Bell.  

Some say the last fire season never ended.  In fact, Cal Fire's staffed at a level usually reserved for June, at the peak of season.  While they prepare, departments here in the Southland want people in the area to do the same by getting involved in the "Ready, Set, Go" campaign.  It asks people to protect their homes by clearing out brush, removing flammable items and preparing for the worst. "Have all of our kits, your family possessions, the things you might call a go-bag, ready to grab," said Cal Fire Riverside county chief John Hawkins. 

The campaign also asks people to create and practice an exit plan.  Hawkins pointed to the evacuation of the town of Idyllwild during last year's Mountain fire as an example.  "We told the people to go early, and they did and it was a very orderly evacuation," said Hawkins.  

The message is also important for people in the Coachella Valley.  Palm Springs fire chief John Allen wants desert residents to pay special attention to our sometimes dangerous conditions.  "When it's 120, the humidity's down below 10 percent, and the wind's are blowing, we all have to be fire safe and conscious of what we do outside," said Allen. 

For more information go to:  http://www.readyforwildfire.org/