State

Cal Fire offers tips to protect your home from wildfire

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Governor Brown has declared this week "wildfire awareness" week.

Fire officials are especially concerned this year because of the above average rainfall we had this season. All that rain resulted in heavy brush and tall grass in areas susceptible to wildfires. Cal Fire officials said now is the time to create a safety zone around your home.

The weed whacker offers a first line of defense. It shreds potential fuel for a wildfire. Some folks in the foothills have begun clearing their property of dry brush.

It is a sight Cal Fire officials like to see. They gathered at Millerton Lake to talk of the need to create 100-feet of defensible space around your home.

Chief Ken Pimlott explained, "We want to do this before the vegetation dries down. We don't want to start fires by striking rocks with lawnmowers and weed eaters while we're trying to prevent fires."

After an extremely wet year, the wind and rising temperatures have dramatically changed vegetation conditions in the area. Weeds are drying quickly. So are the lush green rolling hills.

Inspectors have been out talking to residents who need to clear dry grass, brush and needles from around their homes. They also say firewood should not be stacked under an outdoor deck.

Larry Pendarvis of the Cal Fire Tulare unit said, "You'll see the red flagging underneath the balcony which has the wood storage. Those are major concerns for us."

Pendarvis said too many homes have dry grass within 30-feet of the structure. 100-feet of clearance is required.

Cal Fire has posted signs saying "Wildfire is coming. Is your home ready? Chief Keith Larkin of the Cal Fire Fresno-Kings unit said, "Last year we had almost 500 vegetation fires in the county. Of those, about 30-percent were human-caused fires."

Officials said when it comes to wildfires, it is not a question of if but when.

Fresno County's Cal Fire unit will be fully staffed with eight engines on May 23rd.

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