Whether you call it weed abatement, vegetation management, or just plain old weed eating, folks, it has to be done.
California’s most recent catastrophic wildfires including the Valley, Carr, Woolsey and Camp, all occurred between July and November. No reminder is necessary for the Tubbs, Atlas and Nuns fires that destroyed well over 6,000 homes on October 9, 2017. Wildfire season is here. It is well established and has been extensively publicized that creating a defensible space on your property may save your home from destruction.
The Fourth Supervisorial District block captains, initially organized by Supervisor James Gore, have been meeting weekly since the October 2017 fires which destroyed our homes. The block captains, along with the community of north county fire survivors who we represent, have been dealing daily with all the issues of fire recovery from insurance nightmares, finding contractors and researching many aspects of making our community more resilient. The block captains group has been relaying to our communities information presented at our weekly meetings from the numerous public and private organizations involved in the recovery effort.
For those in the county who were not directly affected by the threat of fire may not be on your radar screen. The block captains are here to sound the alarm that this can happen to you.
You can wake up one morning to find your house destroyed along with all your belongings. Drive around our beautiful county with fire fuel load in mind. It’s scary. Each of us needs to do what we can to reduce high weeds and low lying and dead tree branches. County Fire Code Chapter 13A requires that properties of less than five acres comply with defensible space measures.
The CalFire website outlines the steps to take to allow your home to withstand wildfires. Fire and county officials are out inspecting properties now for Chapter 13A compliance. Take the first step to manage vegetation on your property and remember to do the work in the cooler mornings and definitely not on Red Flag days.
Beyond these inspections we owe it to each other to get fuel loads reduced. Many property owners had done the necessary fire prevention work before the October fire, but a neighbor who had been negligent may have provided fuel that destroyed the responsible property owner’s home. This is our social contract; we’re all in this together with a community approach. This realization of community has been a positive outcome of the October fires.
Do your part and get those weeds mowed and those limbs trimmed back. Follow CalFire guidelines to create a real defensible space. Maybe walk over to your neighbor and give them a friendly reminder that could save their home, as well as yours.
Start or join a COPE (Citizens Organizing to Prepare for Emergencies) group and ask your local fire official to come to a neighborhood gathering to talk about fire safety. Create a family emergency plan and make a “go bag” with valuable documents and essential items if you have to evacuate on short notice. Work with local fire agencies to identify evacuation routes and to identify neighbors who may need extra assistance in an emergency. Look at ways to harden your house by upgrading to fire resistant siding, roofing, eave and window materials.
The Fourth District Block Captains feel responsible to share our lessons learned. A long fire season is here, take steps to protect your families and your neighbors. Our county is doing a tremendous job of recovering from the October, 2017 fires and making a more resilient community. Please do your part to prepare because more fires are coming. As we approach the two year anniversary of the fires, acknowledge the new normal in which we now live. Fire season is here. We ignore these warnings at our peril.