Wildfire Awareness Week: getting serious about fire danger around Truckee
Lake Tahoe’s wet winter allowed for thick brush growth that is now drying out, creating the perfect fuel for forest fires.
In an effort to urge Californians to get serious about properly defending their homes from wildfires, Gov. Jerry Brown declared May 6-12 “Wildfire Awareness Week.”
This year Cal Fire has already responded to more than 950 wildfires that have burned over 5,800 acres.
“We need all Californians to accept fire as part of our natural landscape, understand the potential fire risk, and take action before a wildfire starts,” Cal Fire said in a news release.
As Truckee is situated in an area designated as a “high wildfire hazard area” residents are encouraged to take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of wildfires.
The Town of Truckee offers free services to residents including ways to get rid of yard debris through the Yard Waste Disposal Program, community green waste drop-off events and defensible space inspections.
All residents are required to create 100 feet of defensible space around their homes. This means keeping grass short and watered, stacking firewood away from your home, reducing the density of the surrounding forest, pruning branches up to six feet and keeping the roof and gutters clear of debris.
“We take enforcements very seriously,” said Fire Chief Bill Seline at a Good Morning Truckee meeting Tuesday morning.
With fire season approaching quickly he said the fire department’s biggest priority is large plots of land with overgrown vegetation. These include the Tahoe Truckee Airport, Tahoe Donner Association land and U.S. Forest Service land.
The Truckee Airport is actively working to defend its 2,500 acres against wildfires, completing 670 acres of forest treatment since 2009.
This year they plan to treat the property directly south of Glenshire neighborhood by clearing out overgrown vegetation, according to Kevin Smith, general manager of the Truckee Tahoe Airport District. He said the trees on the property have shown a 30 percent growth rate meaning they must be treated this year.
Joanne Roubique of the Tahoe National Forest said they will be thinning and masticating the forest on their land while creating a fuel break between the forest and urban land.
She said treating the land “isn’t going to prevent fires” and that “we live in an area where wildfires are necessary.” However, by thinning and treating the land, forest fires can be managed.
The Truckee Fire Department encourages homeowners to complete an inspection of their property to make sure it is defensible against wildfires. They also provide one-on-one consultation on effective defensible space. Call 530-582-7853 for details and to schedule an inspection.
In addition, anyone may download Cal Fire’s “Ready for Wildfire” app. The app, available at readyforwildfire.org, provides more information on creating a defensible space and evacuation plans. It will also send out customizable alerts if Cal Fire responds to a wildfire within 10 acres or more of the vicinity.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Truckee Sun. She can be reached at email@example.com or 530-550-2652.