Cal Fire crews inspect defensible space ahead of fire season

The heat and dry weather has wildland firefighters cautioning people about a potentially early fire season.
April 7, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
The heat and dry weather has wildland firefighters cautioning people about a potentially early fire season.

Fire Prevention Battalion Chief Greg Neeley with Cal Fire says inspectors are in the Tulare County foothills making sure people are following state law to keep 100 feet of defensible space around every building on their property.

"If they can do it before 10 a.m., using the power equipment before 10 a.m., that would help tremendously," said Neeley. "They use weed eaters, and they'll strike rocks, and they can cause a fire."

Making your space defensible includes clearing roofs and rain gutters from leaves and branches, and trimming tree branches six feet from the ground. It could mean the difference between a wildland fire burning down your house, or going around it.

"If a wildland fire is going to come through is that when it hits that reduced zone, the fuel reduction zone, it's going to slow the fire down," said Neeley.

Starting on Monday, inspectors in Cal Fire's Tulare unit will be out checking all 4,000 houses in the Tulare County foothills. The inspections will go on for three months. If a property does not have defensible space around their house or barn, the owners face a hefty fine.

"We give them time to clean it up, and people who don't, yes they run the risk of us issuing a citation," said Neeley.

Because it is so dry out, Cal Fire even hired on its seasonal firefighters about six weeks early. They've already completed their training and are out at stations in the area preparing for any wildland fires that may spark up.


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