Volunteers gather in Miramonte to remove fire hazards from properties near KNP Complex Fire

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Becoming "firewise" in Fresno County.

Work is underway to remove brush and clear other fire hazards from properties that came within a mile of the KNP Complex Fire.

The flames have burned nearly 90,000 acres since sparking on September 10th in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

"The more we manage these forests, the more we cut the brush down, the more we make it safer and quicker for our firefighters to get in, knock the fire down and save lives and save properties. There's a lot of quality work going on," says State Assemblyman Jim Patterson.

Patterson joined volunteers Tuesday to help clean up properties and protect homes vulnerable to wildfires in Fresno County.

"I've been totally impressed with what they're doing, how much they're doing, how often they're doing it but we need more," he said.

Crews were able to clear about two acres worth of wildfire hazards Tuesday, but Patterson is calling on more people to join the effort.

"This is the first time I've ever had volunteers in here," says property owner Patrick McCaig.

McCaig has owned his property for 30 years and says it would typically take him all winter to do what the team of volunteers was able to accomplish in just a matter of hours

"The community is pulling together after a number of years," he said. "We're getting some momentum and this is just one project. We'll do many others for other people and I'll volunteer on that. It's kind of like the old fashion barn raising, the community comes for a day of work then you move on to the next property."

With the help of the Oak to Timberline Fire Safe Council, about 60 properties in the area will receive the free cleanup. It's being organized by the Sierra Resource Conservation District thanks to grant funding from Sacramento.

"Anything we can do to clear the defensible space around the house will make it easier for CAL Fire if there is a huge fire. If it's not clear, they won't come in here and save it because it's too dangerous but if we clear it, they have a chance," said Kelly Kucharski with the Sierra Resource Conservation District.

Miramonte is working to become the first "firewise community" in Fresno County, which is a recognition by the National Fire Protection Association.

For more information on how you can join the volunteer efforts, email mlomele@sierrarcd.com or call 559-471-6983.
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