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Fire season at its peak

Be prepared for it
By: Brody Fernandez, Lead Reporter for South Placer
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Fire season is raging in California since the early part of summer.

“Fire seasons have been getting steadily longer and more severe each year,” said Rocklin Fire Department Chief Bill Hack. “The last time I checked, the state of California has burned more acres year to date than ever before. Hopefully that’s not a precursor of what lies ahead.”

Placer County residents should be concerned of large fires starting here.

“Due to the weather in Placer County, any properties that are in the wildland urban interface are susceptible to wildfire,” Hack said. “It is paramount that residents make every effort to reduce their risk by ensuring that there is adequate defensible space around their properties.”    

Placer County Fire Unit Chief George Morris recently gave an interview via the Placer County website about possible fires.

“Last year, the CAL FIRE Nevada Yuba Placer unit responded to 330 wildland fires. That's more than any other areas in the state,” Morris said. “The potential of fires quickly propagating is very real; this is an alarming trend. We need your help to prevent wildfires.”

Morris encouraged residents to visit Placer.ca.gov or readyforwildfire.org to help preparedness meet readiness.

Out of the Top Ten most destructive California wildfires, the top seven have occurred in the past 10 years.

“This is not going to change anytime soon,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) spokeswoman Mary Eldridge. “Our mission is to save lives, save property and save the environment. Ultimately, we win every fight; every fire is put out. However, the challenge is getting tougher every year. We see that in the numbers of acres burned and the dollar amounts of destruction.”

Below are some questions residents ask about fire safety. The questions were answered by former CAL FIRE Director Del Walters and CAL FIRE spokeswoman Eldridge.

 

What precautions can residents take in terms of properly managing their property from fire hazards?  

“Cal Fire advocates maintaining ‘defensible space’ for your structures and homes, which include but are not limited to the following: remove all dead or dying vegetation; trim tree canopies regularly to keep their branches a minimum of 10 feet from structures and other trees; remove leaf litter (dry leaves/pine needles) from yard, roof and rain gutters; remove ‘ladder fuels’ (low-level vegetation that allows the fire to spread from the ground to the tree canopy). Create a separation between low-level vegetation and non-vegetative materials such as patio furniture, wood piles, swing set, etc., from tree branches. This can be done by reducing the height of low-level vegetation and/or trimming low tree branches.”  

- former CAL FIRE Director Del Walters via website

 

What tools or resources should residents have with them to be fully prepared for a fire in their area?

“CAL FIRE advocates a H.E.C. (home evacuation checklist), which include the following: shut all windows and doors, leaving them unlocked; remove flammable window shades, curtains and close metal shutters; remove lightweight curtains; move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors; shut off gas at the meter; turn off pilot lights; leave your lights on so firefighters can see your house under smoky conditions; shut off the air conditioning.”  

- former CAL FIRE Director Del Walters via website

 

Why are California fire ‘seasons’ the ‘new norm’ in regard to environmental history?

“When I was growing up, fire season was in July, August and September. Now with fires like the Thomas fire burning through December where we had humidity at 0 percent, (fire season) is year-round. You can see in the stats here at http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_statsevents that our fires are bigger and more intense. To better understand, you need to read “Fire in the Sierra Nevada Forests” by George E. Gruell. You can see how fuels are building. Couple this with drought and bug kill weakening over 21 million trees and you can see how our forests are vulnerable to the smallest spark.”  

- Placer CAL FIRE spokeswoman Mary Eldridge

 

Where should residents go for information in reference to fire evacuations?

“My first line of defense would be Placer Alert via the county’s website at https://www.placer.ca.gov/departments/sheriff/citizenalert. There you can sign up for Placer Alert as many mobile phone numbers as you want to receive the important updates. Residents can sign up for Placer Alert via their website at https://www.placer.ca.gov/departments/sheriff/citizenalert. If you have a landline, you’re already signed up.”  

-Placer CAL FIRE spokeswoman Mary Eldridge