Officials urge preparedness ahead of fire season
Following a record-breaking fire season in 2020 that saw roughly 4.3 million acres burned, forecasters from AccuWeather are warning of another potential historic year of fires across the western United States.
“Unfortunately, in a nutshell, it looks like it’s going to be another busy season,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel in a news release. “We’re seeing a lot of drought. Almost half of the country is experiencing drought and the bulk of that is to the west.”
In Northern California, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, there are areas of extreme drought stretching across the northern and central Sierra Nevada due to poor snowpack conditions.
Going into the season, departments like the Truckee Fire Protection District are encouraging residents to create defensible space around their homes. There are also free drop-off dates for vegetation disposal on May 14, June 4, and June 25.
Among other measures, all backyard campfires using wood or charcoal will be banned in the Truckee and Tahoe area, typically starting in June and running through November. Of all wildfires, according to the district, 95% are started by humans with campfires being a significant cause. Learn more by visiting http://www.truckeefire.org/fire-ban.
While backyard campfires aren’t allowed, residents looking to burn vegetative waste are allowed to do so through the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit’s burn permit program.
In concert with Wildfire Awareness Month, Cal Fire launched its permit program May 1, in order to provide guidelines for residents seeking to burn vegetative material.
According to Cal Fire, only vegetative materials such as pine needles and leaves may be burned. Possessing a burn permit also doesn’t protect individuals from a fire that gets out of control, which could result in liability costs. Permits are valid for the calendar year. Burning can only be done on permissible days, and can be obtained at burnpermit.fire.ca.gov.
Along with guidelines for when and what materials can be burned, Nevada and Placer counties have websites set up with information on wildfire safety and emergency preparedness. Placer County information can be found at http://www.placer.ca.gov/5852/ready-placer, while Nevada County’s site is at http://www.readynevadacounty.org.
This week, the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services also launched a new zone-based evacuation technology to complement its website, adding to its capabilities of providing timely information to residents and visitors to the area.
“This technology is not a replacement for our current communications strategy but an evolution of the overall flow of information between agencies and to the public during an emergency,” said Nevada County Office of Emergency Services Manager Paul Cummings in this week’s announcement. “Every year we ask ourselves, ‘What more can we do to help our community be better prepared?’ This important technology is the next step and we are excited to share it.”
In the event of a wildfire or other emergency situation, law enforcement and fire agencies will issue evacuation warnings or orders. Residents are asked to look up and document their zones in order to understand impacted areas and expedite evacuations should the need arise. Authorities will use the zones, which can be found at http://www.readynevadacounty.org/knowyourzone, to provide information via CodeRED, Nixle, media releases, and social media. The county is receiving two years of the zone-based evacuation services free of charge due to a donation from the software company Zonehaven.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2643
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