Fire season’s ignition delayed |

Fire season’s ignition delayed

Sierra Sun graphicA new California law requires homeowners to keep their houses fire safe with defenseible space.

The 2006 fire season in the central and northern Sierra is predicted to hit later than normal due to a snowy, cool winter.

With precipitation 120 to 200 percent of normal over the winter season, the National Interagency Fire Center’s April fire outlook for the region suggests that a wetter winter delays the point in time when tall brush and other fire fuels dry up and become vulnerable to fire danger. However, when the brush does dry, fire officials say the flash fuels will burn hotter and faster.

Because of that, local fire districts are imploring homeowners to think about defensible space.

“People need to take personal responsibility for living in the mountains,” said Chief Duane Whitelaw of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District. “They cannot rely on the agencies … We may not be available.”

To become self-sufficient and ready in the event of a wildfire, Whitelaw reiterated the need to clear the defensible space around homes and to create an evacuation plan.

“It is time for people to evolve from winter thinking to summer fire season thinking ” being more careful, quick to report a fire or smoke as soon as they see it. It is important for people to think about what they would do in the event of a wildfire,”

Whitelaw said. “It’s not if, but when the big one is going to happen.”

After homeowners clear debris from their home’s perimeter of 30 to 100 feet,

Whitelaw said there are two ways to get rid of the brush. One way is dooryard burning, allowed on specific burn days. A permit is required. The second is by the homeowner calling the fire district in which they live to have the free chipping service come by to take care of the debris.

Local fire districts offer tips and suggestions for creating a fire safe home, and say they welcome questions.

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