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Cal Fire speaks on defensible space preparations ahead of fire season

FELTON, Calif. (KION-TV)-- Wildfires have ravaged California over the past few years seemingly getting worse over time, but a defensible space around your home could better protect you and your loved ones.

Approximately, 2,568,948 acres burned, 8,835 incidents were reported and 3,629 structures were either damaged or destroyed in 2021 due to wildfires.

Cal Fire said that vegetation risks must be cleared from 100-200 feet around an owner's home to mitigate fire risk.

Some people have already begun making sure the defensible space around their homes are set up ahead of the usual spring time announcement from Cal Fire.

“Got rid of some trees in the front that were really really really close to the house, replacing it with a rock garden. Thinned out the trees on the property. Mostly the tan oaks because they’re highly flammable,"said a local resident, that preferred to be anonymous.

For people who have trees on their property, it's recommended that you trim them upwards.

This helps to reduce the risk of lower hanging branches to catch on fire.

"You don't feel like you're doing anything but you have to do little things like that, because it all adds up,"said the anonymous resident.

The first line of defense you have against fire danger is to be well prepared.

“Folks can give their home a better fighting chance if they have that fuel reduced around their home," said Nate Armstrong, Fire Chief for Cal Fire San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit.

You're not only protecting yourself, but others in your neighborhood.

“Cutting down trees is not one of my favorite things, but I did it for the whole of the street,"said the anonymous resident. "If people see me do it. Then they might do it. I did it for me too, I don’t want my house to burn down.”

Recent months alone have shown that a fire can spark up at any time of the year.

"Obviously the height of summer is what most people think of as that peak fire season but we've seen just down the coast in the Big Sur area, where there's that significant fire threat even in the month of January," said Chief Armstrong.

Cal fire said that with the fires we've had in past years, it's best to set up your defensible spaces as early as possible and keep them maintained year round.

“Like what we saw in 2020, where there was just state-wide significant drawdown of resources. We can never guarantee what’s exactly going to be here in Santa Cruz County when these fires break out,"said Chief Armstrong. "That’s why we like to make sure that everybody takes as much effort as they can, to make sure their home can stand alone with the minimal amount of resources that we might be able to get."

If you're unsure on how to set up your defensible space, Cal Fire has set up a page on their website with full instructions.

https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/get-ready/defensible-space/#:~:text=Defensible%20space%20is%20the%20buffer,flame%20contact%20or%20radiant%20heat
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Joronica Vinluan

Reporter/ Weekend Producer for KION News Channel 5/46

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