Cal Fire issues a rare state wide burn ban

August 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Fresno County man has a lesson for Valley residents after fire ripped through his backyard. This as Cal Fire issues a rare state wide burn ban.

Fire crews say this type of burn ban hasn't been issued in decades. But in the middle of a heat wave, there are a dozen large wildfires burning in California.

Sam Rodriguez, 68, is talking about what's left of his backyard mobile home in Malaga. He lost pictures, clothes, sentimental treasures that can't be replaced. He blames it on a friend's careless act.

Rodriguez said, "Just make sure everything's off before you go even if you think you'll be gone for 5 minutes."

He says his friend was cooking outside, a gust of wind blew, and that was all the dry brush needed to send flames ripping through his backyard. Cal Fire says that's exactly why a state wide burn ban was issued.

Capt. Ryan Michaels told Action News, "The intent of that is to limit the careless act or accidental fires that may take place while people are working or camping or doing things outdoors or anything with open fire."

Captain Ryan Michaels showed us one of the many "problem areas" in the Central Valley. Neighborhoods like this one off Herndon and McCall in Clovis.

Captain Ryan Michaels said, "As you can see this wind blowing very quickly through this field it would only take a matter of minutes for this field to be destroyed and threaten multiple structures in the neighborhood."

They cite property owners for weedy lots, but it's not easy to collect or enforce. Sometimes they send people a bill for the fires they need to fight. But mostly they hope people will do their part in prevention. And while what happened to Sam Rodriguez was purely accidental, even he agrees, it shouldn't have happened.

Tonight he says he's lucky Fresno County crews saved his home.

"Thanks a lot, I appreciate it, and it's all I can do," Rodriguez said. "I can't cry about it, you know?"


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