Agencies, homeowners working on fire prevention in Fresno County

Kate Nemarich Image
Thursday, May 30, 2024
Agencies, homeowners working on fire prevention in Fresno County
Memorial Day began with flames near Millerton Lake.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Memorial Day began with flames near Millerton Lake.

Dawn Irving described the frightening moments when she was told to evacuate.

"He goes, 'You have to evacuate,' and he goes, "NOW!" just like that, and I go, 'Okay! I'm out of here.' Because nobody has ever been that before," said Irving.

Irving and her neighbors along Sky Harbour Road had to evacuate as more than 40 firefighters used bulldozers and dropped fire retardant from the air.

Irving said she prepares for moments like Monday, she keeps go-bags packed and ready in case of an evacuation.

When CAL FIRE stops by her house early in the year with steps to protect her home she takes their recommendations very seriously.

"The first thing we do is weed whack and keep everything," said Irving. "They say, I think, 100 feet? I go 200 feet; I don't take any chances because I'm on top of a hill, and it'll rush up the hill, so I'm extra cautious."

No one was hurt, and the fire destroyed no homes.

CAL FIRE has various tools at its disposal when fires do spark.

"There's always several fire engines, aircraft, bulldozers, and hand crews," said Seth Brown with CAL FIRE/Fresno County Fire.

"We dispatch all those to fires, and our strategy is to put the fire out as soon as possible. Public safety is our number one priority."

The US Forest Service works alongside CAL FIRE and other agencies on fire prevention, including using prescribed burns to remove dead grass and other flammable brush.

Spokesperson Adrienne Freeman said the US Forest Service has always created fire suppression plans, but they have made some updates since the Creek Fire in 2020, like the shared effort to remove fuels.

"We've seen a lot of advancements in the last couple of years that allow us to work jointly with private industry as well as with our public partnerships," said Freeman.

"Those include things like being able to start fire suppression on timberlands and things like that, that help preserve resources and keep communities safe."

Irving wants visitors at Millerton Lake to consider how their behavior and choices could impact those who live on the hills above the lake, especially when using fireworks or leaving flammable stuff around.

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