This is a shot of smoke from the Simi Fire from the Sepulveda Dam Basin in the San Fernando Valley. The view is looking south. The fire is to the north of this shot but visibility is so bad you can't even see the mountains.
They are looking at arson for at least one of the fires burning in southern California right now. Here's a fire map by the LA Times.
Which brings me to the other point of this post. Arson watch and prevention. Not only do the Santa Ana Winds create Red Flag conditions, it also seems to really bring out the crazies. Unfortunately forming a posse and lynching arsonists is now frowned upon in the Great Southwest. But you can still sign up with the Sheriff's Department to help stop fires from starting in the first place.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has several Arson Watch programs around the county where you can volunteer to help prevent brushfires. You go through a training program before being certified.
Here are a few links to get you started. If there isn't an Arson Watch program in your area you might volunteer to help start one with your local Sheriff's Office. Buddy Ebson helped start the Topanga Fire Watch group in his area.
LA County Arson Watch Programs and Volunteer Opportunities
Malibu / Lost Hills Volunteer Program Homepage:
This is a great page with lots of fire prevention tips too!
LA County Sheriff Cresenta Valley Station:
Main Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Volunteer Form
Los Angeles Red Cross Volunteer page
Los Angeles Fire Department Bureau of Support Services Volunteer Unit
Los Angeles Fire Department volunteer opportunities for residents
LA City Crisis Response Team (C-R-T) Volunteer Program
No Public Arson Database For Now
Meanwhile, SB 1130 a bill by Senator Jim Battin (R- La Quinta) that will provide public access to the California Department of Justice arson database seems to have died in session this year. Similar to Megan's Law, Californians would be able to look up registered arsonists in their area.
As of 2006 there were almost 4,000 arsonists registered statewide.