Ready to grab and go

You can't take the filing cabinet. But you can prepare for an evacuation with technology that makes papers and inventories portable. It's one less thing to worry about. "All of my financial documents are stored at my office, not here, and so I just took some clothes, my guitar and the family photographs that we don't have on a disc," he said. But because Basenberg and his family knew that canyon living involves the threat of wildfires, they were prepared to make a quick g

Where there's brush ...

This year's higher-than-normal fire danger keeps hillside homeowners on their guard. Every year during the May-to-December fire season, fire departments, brush-clearance inspectors and hillside homeowners throughout the Southland scramble to reduce the possibility of wildfires like the one that threatened the Bowles' home. And this year's near-record levels of rain have produced unusually high levels of brush and grass, which make it easier for fires to start and spread quickly. It's not just o

Planting the seeds of fire prevention

The time to start thinking about fire prevention is when homeowners first landscape their properties, according to Paul Terris, fire inspector for the Los Angeles Fire Department. Before planting fire-fueling pine and eucalyptus trees, Terris recommends hillside homeowners consult the department's list of fire-retardant plants and trees. "People like to plant native plants and trees," Terris said, but they too can be hazardous when it comes to fire. Some indigenous trees and plants push oil ou

Not so easy to flip

The quick turnaround has cooled. Now it takes savvy and caution to pull off the fast fix and make a profit. "The market where you could just go in, tidy something up and make a lot of money is gone," said Jad Najjar, a longtime flipper and real estate broker in Beverly Hills. The number of his clients looking for houses to flip has declined 75% in the last year, he said, in part because it's become a more rigorous and less profitable business right now and less experienced