Fire investigators inspect properties as wildfire season nears

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019
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After a wet winter, the warm weather is drying out tall grasses and brush, creating fire hazards. Here's how you can help reduce fire risk.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Cal Fire crews and California National Guard troops continue work on a fuel reduction project in the Prather area.

It's designed to create fuel breaks and help keep foothill and mountain residents safe.

But homeowners like Wayne Wilhelm are also doing their part. The 71-year-old knows how dangerous wildfires can be.

RELATED: Cal Fire crews clear branches, reduce vegetation ahead of wildfire season

"I did not want my house to be one of those that get burnt like Paradise and things like that," he said. "I feel like my house in a fire would probably survive the situation."

Cal Fire inspectors have been out educating people on the need to clear 100 feet of defensible space around their home.

Weeds, grass, even rubbish can pose a potential fire threat and allow flames to spread quickly.

"A lot of times with wildfires there's high winds and there's embers blown around by the fire," said Seth Brown. "We want people to make their home hardened so an ember doesn't get into a tight space or into a hole, an eave, into the attic."

Tulare County Fire crews begin their inspections May 1, but Cal Fire inspectors have been visiting homeowners for a few months now.

RELATED: Gov. Gavin Newsom introduces Cal Fire safety app ahead of wildfire season

Wilhelm's fire season preparation is seen as ideal though he knows many people in the foothills have some catching up to do.

"I have a neighbor next door to me who has a lot of brush, a lot of stuff on his property," he said. "I've commented to him he needs to clean it up even though he physically can't do it himself, he can hire people to do it."

Firefighters recommend you do outdoor property maintenance before 10 a.m. before it warms up and not do the work when it's windy.

As we've seen in past years, rocks hitting metal blades can cause sparks which lead to a fire.