Spring Home Show 2014

Cal Fire ready to attack wildland fires

By From page HGS7 | April 30, 2014

Keenan Kelly


If you’ve got a smart phone or any kind of mobile device, no doubt you’ve heard about those apps that tell you how to burn calories, tone and build muscle by simply subscribing to that application. If you live in rural El Dorado County, you don’t need an exercise app. Fire season is coming and it’s coming on hard. Pick up a rake and a small saw, put on some tick repellant and head out for a full day of creating defensible space.

It’s really sad, but you can’t turn on the evening news without hearing about at least one fire, be it structure or ground fire. And we’ve only begun spring time in El Dorado County. Sure, the last couple of rains have helped, but once again Cal Fire is asking that we all do what we can to create defensible space around our homes.

I’ve lived up here so long that reading about burn permits and defensible space seems to be common sense, but not all of us have lived here that long. Some of us are first-time home buyers and having those pinecones and pine needles lying around the property make our homes seem so cozy and cabin-like.

Our neighbors have taken their tractor and actually cut a fire path around their property. Not all of us have a tractor, but most of us have a rake, a pair of gardening gloves and some kind of pruning equipment.

Cal Fire has released an alert to warn homeowners that we have had record low rainfall and the grass and brush across California is tinder dry. As of January of this year, Cal Fire has responded to over 300 wildfires that has charred over 700 acres. In a normal rain-fall year, they expect to respond to about 50 fires, with damage to a little over 100 acres. They report that many of these wildfires have been sparked with powered equipment like lawn mowers and weed trimmers. They suggest that homeowners work early in the morning when temperatures are down and humidity is up, hoping to avoid sparking a wildfire.

At this year’s EDC Home and Garden show you’ll have a chance to shake hands with some of the brave people who respond to dangerous situations where our homes or lives are in danger. It’s easy to watch the news and see those men and women out there in their heavy firefighting gear and catch yourself in awe of how they can face those extreme temperatures, regardless of their own comfort and safety. Take a minute to stop by and introduce your kids to the crews and let them see firefighting equipment up close and personal. Real equipment, not that virtual equipment the kids find on their X-Box.

Learn to make a safety plan for your family, building a kit of supplies that will last you a few days should the worst happen and discussing where to go and where to meet up if you get separated.

Basic rules for defensible space are:

  • Maintain 100 feet of defensible space around all structures.
  • Clear all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves and rain gutters.
  • Trim branches six feet from the ground.
  • Landscape with fire resistant/drought tolerant plants that require little water.
  • Remove branches away from roofs and 10 feet from chimney.
  • Use trimming, mowing and powered equipment before 10 a.m. and not on hot, windy days.
  • Keep wood piles and flammable materials at least 30 feet from the home.

Remember, there was a time in your life, years ago, when you believed that firefighters and their trucks were bigger than life and your big dream was to grow up and someday drive one of those laddered trucks and blaring that powerful siren. The life of a firefighter was not unlike that of any super hero and it’s time to share that vision with your kids or grandkids.

Visit Cal Fire’s Website at to learn more about defensible space.

Fern Staton

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