8 months after Creek Fire, Fresno County homeowners prepare for another wildfire season

Close to 14,000 acres have already burned statewide this year. This time last year that acreage was less than 2,000.
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Bill and Debbie Cooper still remember the chilling sound of their phone's emergency tone alerting them to evacuation warnings prompted by the Creek Fire back in September. But one action brought them peace of mind.

Bill Cooper says, "Everyone does their 100-feet defensible and they pretty much take care of the rest of their property."

The single largest wildfire in state history didn't reach their property in Prather, but the glow from the flames could be seen coming over the ridge nearby.

Cooper adds, "I think it was a lesson for everyone in the foothills and below - all it takes is a tin can and 110 degree weather to start a fire on your property. "

Even CAL FIRE inspectors have noticed more people are taking potential hazards seriously.

CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Dan Urias says, "We can't predict where the fire is going to be coming from. We can plan and prepare the communities but the emergency response is always going to be there. "

The combination of climbing temperatures and a dry winter has CAL FIRE bracing for not if but when the next big wildfire happens.

Urias adds, "It's already happening, we just need to keep on with the communication and hopefully the fire season isn't as bad as we're predicting it to be. "

Close to 14,000 acres have already burned statewide this year. This time last year that acreage was less than 2,000.

RELATED: Mountain Strong: Surviving the Creek Fire

Less than 24 hours before this story, crews kept a fire in the Watts Valley area from growing larger than 12 acres.

The blaze was sparked by a car crash - another reminder that fires can break out anywhere.

It's also why CAL FIRE says it's critical to keep 100 feet of defensible space around every structure on your property.

Mariah Perez is part of a team that inspects all homes within the state response area.

Tall grass and weeds are some of the more obvious hazards, but dry leaves, twigs, even tree branches touching your roof also pose a danger.

Perez says, "Those flying embers they will find their way to anything and they'll be quick to ignite and start a fire."

Propane tanks need to be on a slab of concrete - or have 10 feet of clearance down to the soil. Any firewood should be stored away from the home.

"God forbid you're in any type of situation where you have to evacuate. You can leave your house with the confidence knowing you've done everything you possibly could to protect your home from that wildfire," said Perez.
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