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Redding Fire Department officials said a homeowner’s foresight prevented a home vegetation fire last week, from growing out of control.
Crews quickly knocked down the fire that started after a eucalyptus branch knocked down power lines near the property, Battalion Chief Steve Reilly said. The fire burned a 50-foot swatch of dry grass on the property. Reilly said that the homeowner's efforts to keep dry grass cut around the home prevented the fire from spreading to the building.
“It definitely helped reduce the threat to the homeowner,” Reilly said. “We’re glad he took those precautions.”
Gallegos maintained the space around his home throughout the summer, fearing drought conditions and the risk a fire could pose to his home. He plans to remove the trees surrounding the property to prevent them from becoming ensnared in the electric lines again. Learn more about some basic Firewise principles that can help to reduce your home's risk from wildfire.
Homeowners should have about 100 feet of defensible space around their homes, according to California law. Firewise has further information on the "home ignition zone" which includes different criteria and suggestions for the spaces 30, 100 and up to 200 feet around your home. Helping to maintain this defensible space around your home can help to reduce your wildfire risk, as well as reduce the risk wildfire may pose to firefighters who work to protect the neighborhood.
The Big Bear Valley, a small city of about only 5,000 people in San Bernardino County, California, is known for its gold mining, logging, ranching, fox farm, movie shoots and Grizzly bears.
Thankfully, Big Bear Valley hasn’t been affected by large fires in over 107 years. But that also means the area has accumulated 107 years’ worth of forest fuels which if ignited could cause a fire difficult to contain.
Over 60% of the National Forest right next to the City of Big Bear Lake is a Condition Class 3, is densely populated with trees and filled with millions of dead trees. And in 2001, the city was listed in the Federal Register as a Community at Risk of a wildfire.
So in July 2006, the City of Big Bear Lake City Council voted to authorize the Mayor to sign the Big Bear Valley Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which was entitled a “Systems Approach.” The plan included the need to replace old shake shingle roofs, removing dead leaves and to conduct fuel reduction on private properties.
Find out how their Chipper Day was and read more of Big Bear Lake’s story.
California actually has other communities that have become Firewise and each of their stories are unique and as interesting as the next.
Show your support by reading their stories!
Posted by Reshma Kodandaram on 08/06/2014 at 10:04 AM in California, Community Action, Environment, Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise, Firewise Plants, NFPA, Success Stories, Wildfire Hazards | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Two fires burning in northeast California have forced hundreds of residents to evacuate. One of the fires has destroyed eight homes in the town of Burney in Shasta County, and has also prompted the evacuation of a small long-term care hospital, according to news reports. Both fires appear to have been started by lightning. Meanwhile, in sharp contrast to the fires up north, flashflooding in southern California has left thousands of people stranded and damaged many homes.
Fire officials say the two fires are among some 14 fires now burning across central and northern California. Together, they have burned more than 183 square miles of dried out timber and brush caused by the serious drought conditions across the state.
State fire spokesperson, Dennis Mathisen, tells news outlets that California is 35% above average in the number of fires it’s seen so far this year, and is 44% above average in the amount of land burned. Much of the state remains under a red flag warning, and Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, calling for additional help in combatting the fires.
For residents who may have to evacuate, NFPA provides important tips on what to bring with you, and how to prepare your home before you leave. Check out our "before, during and after" wildfire safety page for more information.
Posted by LisaMarie Sinatra on 08/05/2014 at 12:50 PM in California, Current Affairs, Environment, Evacuation Planning, Firewise, News, NFPA, Weather and Predictive Services, Wildfire Hazards, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
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One of my NFPA colleagues this morning pointed out this interesting article from CBS/San Francisco Bay Area news. It states that on this, the one-year anniversary of a fire that has burned across forest land in and around Yosemite National Park, there is what ecologists, researchers and fire experts call, a “barren moonscape” in the Sierra Nevada mountains (that is) larger than any burned in centuries.
The Yosemite Rim Fire has burned more than 400 square miles, and 60 square miles of it has burned so intensely that it has actually killed a number of trees and other vegetation. Some ecologists have referred to this piece of land as “dead,” and as hard as this is to believe, the future existence and growth of particular types of wildlife and plants is uncertain.
What's causing this problem? According to the article, the increased growth of dead and downed trees and vegetation, a warming climate, drought and our current suppression practices, have all led to a greater intensity of wildfires to date.
Take a look at the article, and let us know what you think. If you live in the area, what have you seen happening over the the last year? What are your thoughts on the state of wildfires in the west? Share you story with us on Facebook or start a conversation on NFPA's wildfire LinkedIn subgroup page. We're always happy to hear from you.
Posted by LisaMarie Sinatra on 08/04/2014 at 12:47 PM in California, Current Affairs, Education, Environment, Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise, Mitigation, Nevada, News, NFPA, Science, Social Media, Weather and Predictive Services, Wildfire Hazards, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Some interesting charts caught my eye while perusing a recent issue of the Denver Post newspaper and I wanted to share them with you. The article they were from was: Colorado leads country for share of homes most vulnerable to wildfires with content from the 2013 Wildfire Hazard Risk Report – Residential Wildfire Exposure Estimates for the Western U.S., developed by CoreLogic®, a real estate analytics company.
The report looks at residential properties potentially exposed to wildfire risk in 13 western states and evaluates them using four risk levels (low, moderate, high and very high), along with the estimated value of at risk single-family residences. It also includes a summary of properties at risk and their home values by individual state, with a look at risk and damage potential in seven metropolitan areas.
According to the report, more than 200,000 homes in Colorado are highly vulnerable to wildfires; which represents more than 10% of homes in the state (the highest ratio in any state). Those homes with a high-risk have an estimated value of more than $38 billion. The next most exposed states are Montana at 9.1% and Oregon at 8%. But in dollar terms, Texas and California have the most property vulnerable to wildfire.
Both the Denver Post article and the CoreLogic report have some great data, trends and projections that describe the scope of the wildfire landscape in the west.
Posted by Cathy Prudhomme on 08/01/2014 at 05:37 PM in Arizona, California, Colorado, Education, Fire Adapted Communities, Firewise, Montana, Nevada, News, Reports, Texas, Wildfire Hazards, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Sand Fire: A vehicle driving over dry brush started the Sand Fire July 25, in Armador and El Dorado counties near the Sierra Nevada foothills, close to vineyards east of Sacramento, CA. The fire has destroyed13 homes and covers an area of about 6 square miles and is about 65 percent contained.
El Portal Fire: More than 1,200 people have been evacuated at some point since the fire began on Saturday, July 26 with more than 500 homes under current evacuation orders. Close to 2,000 firefighters have been battling this blaze that is under investigation.
In an area that includes both Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest, the El Portal fire is threatening the communities of Foresta and Old El Portal along with three campgrounds. The blaze is burning south of last year's Rim fire, which covered more than 250,000 acres in and around Yosemite.
Hundreds of firefighters are battling the blaze with personnel from the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire. One structure has been lost with only 5% containment. The fire is threatening the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias within the National Park.
Dark Hole Fire: Another fire 4.5 miles north of Yosemite Valley called the Dark Hole Fire started following a lightning storm on July 16 and is about a mile south of Yosemite Creek campground. This fire has grown to about 600 acres and is spreading to the east and north.
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I try and set aside a few minutes each Friday to read trade articles and email that’s piled up during the week, and when I got to that place on my calendar today a piece from a colleague was calling my name. That article was from authors Rachel Cleetus and Kranti Mulak with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Their recently released report, “Playing with Fire – How Climate Change and Development Patterns are Contributing to the Soaring Costs of Western Wildfires” was screaming for me to open it. The report strives to explain why western wildfires are worsening; why current policies and practices may be increasing risks and costs; and the impacts and recommendations on limiting costs. It also includes case studies from California, Colorado, Montana and New Mexico; and the issues occurring in those states.
They outline steps that need to be taken that include: building resilience in communities on the frontlines of risk, reducing the expansion of development near fire-prone areas and cutting the emissions fueling climate change; all of which will be crucial to limiting the impacts of wildfires on people and forests.
There's also a lot of great data, maps, photos and charts that you'll virtually dog-ear to include in future PowerPoints. So when you’re carving out time for some work related reading, add this one to your list!
Oregon and Washington have seen their share of wildfire activity this past month. News reports say that a combined 940,000 acres in both states have burned to date. Fire officials point to lightning as the cause of several of the large fires. Northwest Interagency Coordination Center spokeswoman, Carol Connolly, said this morning that 3,000 lightning strikes were reported in Oregon as storms moved from Northern California into southern Oregon and points north. These same storms, according to California news reports, created more than 20,000 lightning strikes across much of that state, including dozens in the Bay Area of San Francisco.
Living in the Northeast, I tend to associate lightning with heavy rain storms. So while California and much of the Pacific Northwest is experiencing severe drought conditions and high temperatures, I started wondering, how do these storms produce enough lightning to ignite wildfires while at the same time, not produce enough rain to end the drought?
After reading a few news reports, I think I found my answer. Brenda Belongie, a meteorologist with the U.S. Forest Service explains it this way: “Lightning can hit a tree and just hang out, particularly after rain. It can smolder for several weeks. Think of a long, slow, glowing ember. Then, when it warms up and dries, a fire emerges.”
The Forest Service says lightning is the leading cause of wildfires in California, and as I mentioned above, lightning is the source of many of the large fires in Oregon and Washington. With more thunderstorms in the forecast for the Pacific Northwest, fire officials are worried about the potential for additional flare ups.
So while there are things we can do to reduce the number of “human-caused” wildfires, what can we humans do about lightning-caused fires? The U.S. Forest Service says that firefighters are using aircraft to monitor sites identified by our country’s “lightning detection system” which, through radio signals, can report a lightning strike within 15 seconds. The idea is to identify and extinguish as quickly as possible any fires ignited by these lighting strikes.
As for us homeowners, while we can’t stop lightning from hitting trees in our forests or rush to extinguish the fire after they've been hit, we can do something to reduce the amount of damage it can cause to our homes and property. Start by working around your yard, getting rid of dead and downed debris, cleaning out gutters and limbing trees. Creating defensible space, as this technique is called, is a great way to keep wind-blown wildfire embers from sparking a fire on your home or in your yard. You can find specific information about defensible space on our Firewise web page.
And it might be good to note that with all of these lightning strikes happening around our communities, we need to exercise caution to keep our own selves safe. NFPA has produced a great tips sheet and video, which provide important information to help you and your family stay safe during a storm. Take a look today and share this information with friends and neighbors. You (and they) will be glad you did!
Photo courtesy of Wildfire Today blog
Posted by LisaMarie Sinatra on 07/23/2014 at 03:09 PM in California, Current Affairs, Environment, Firewise, Mitigation, News, NFPA, Oregon, Weather and Predictive Services, Wildfire Hazards, wildland firefighter, Wildland Urban Interface | Permalink | Comments (0)
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NFPA has gotten a lot of requests lately from our friends in the states wanting to know "where do we rank with Firewise?" Of course, they are referring to the numbers of active Firewise Communities/USA sites in each state.
Check out this list, pulled from our data just yesterday. These 11 states (two are tied for 7th place) represent 75% of all active Firewise communities in the country - nearly 1,100 sites to date.
Yes, Arkansas is still the top state to beat (and their Governor is rightly proud of this). We hope that with all the fire activity in Washington state during the past few weeks that their excellent showing in community engagement and wildfire safety action will pay off in terms of homes saved and property protected.
Visit www.firewise.org/usa for more information on how to apply wildfire safety principles in your community and gain recognition for your neighborhood's risk reduction actions.
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