Photo by flickr user Essjay NZIn Southern California, we pay for our excessive share of fine weather with any number of potential disasters just waiting to happen: earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, flash floods, drought, and — as witnessed twice in just over a month in the Hollywood area alone — FIRES! FIRES!

Sure, there’s not much we can do to prevent something like an earthquake — but fires? Come on!

They’re almost always caused by knuckleheads doing something they’re not supposed to be doing in areas ill-prepared to accommodate the far-reaching spectrum of human idiocy. It doesn’t take a genius to do the math: An errant spark + acres of dead grass and underbrush + spring winds = Oh, NO!

On March 30th, it was a couple of pyromaniac adolescents on vacation who admitted to starting the fire that came darned close to taking out the Hollywood sign. A premature April Fool’s joke on our fair city, perhaps?

Yesterday, it seems the fire that raged through Griffith Park and threatened the Los Angeles Zoo and countless residences may have been caused by a man who “fell asleep while smoking a cigarette and ‘woke up with his shirt on fire'” according to a report by the Associated Press.

The folks at 1947project propose a novel, simple, and surprisingly affordable solution to the problem: Goats! It’s not as far-fetched as it might sound, and it’s been tested before. In a petition to the city, Kim Cooper writes:

We the undersigned demand that the City of Los Angeles and the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks respond to this continued threat by bringing in shepherds with herds of goats to graze on the dry hills, a plan previously implemented with great success by UC Berkeley in the aftermath of that community’s devastating 1991 fire.

Goats are economical, ecological fire-fighting machines that produce fertilizer as they clear hills and canyons of weeds, poison oak and dry chaparral. Additionally, the animals are charming, newsworthy ambassadors for fire safety, a subject that needs to be more widely discussed.

While supportive of the idea, Jillian at Metroblogging Los Angeles does bring up a good point:

I’m a little concerned that the coyotes might find the goats to be meals-on-hoofs.

Mmmm, goats!

Anyway, if you live in Los Angeles and you think this is an idea worth entertaining, please sign the petition. For the sake of fire safety and hungry goats (and coyotes) citywide!

Photo of lovely goats above by flickr user Essjay NZ