Protecting property: Time for defensible space |

Protecting property: Time for defensible space

AP Photo/Chris CarlsonA firefighter works to put out a spot fire near Santa Barbara, Calif., Thursday, May 7, 2009. Firefighters struggled early Friday to get ahead of a raging wildfire that was moving dangerously close to heavily populated areas in this idyllic coastal city. The fire's increasing strength prompted officials to order 6,000 more people to evacuate late Thursday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. That pushed the total number of evacuated residents to at least 18,000.

TRUCKEE ” With wild land blazes already under way in Southern California and local fire season fast approaching, now is the time to make sure local homes and properties are fire safe.

A community Wildfire Defensible Space Forum will be held Thursday, May 14, at Truckee Town Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. to discuss defensible space practices and options in the region.

Speakers will include Jeff Dowling of CalFire, Bill Houdyschell of Tahoe Donner Forestry and the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, Bob Belden of Truckee Fire Protection District, and Nichole Dorr with the Town of Truckee.

“We’re getting everybody together to answer questions about defensible space and how to make it work in our community,” said Gene Welch, public safety and information officer with Truckee Fire.

Welch said Truckee Fire will be offering defensible space inspections, wood chipping, and is working to offer chip hauling.

“As the snow melts now is the time to start cleaning up, and it’s still wet which is more desirable for burning debris piles,” Welch said.

The Town of Truckee is also considering a green waste program, Dorr said, with every-other-week curbside collection at a estimated cost of $14.49 per year starting in 2010.

“This will allow residents to maintain their property and keep defensible space going throughout the summer,” Dorr said. “And it’s cheaper than hauling yard waste to the transfer station.”

North Tahoe Fire Protection District is shooting for about 2,500 defensible space inspections this season, said Stewart McMorrow, forest fuels program manager for North Tahoe Fire, along with doubled capacity for chipping, and tree removal permits in conjunction with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

A number of free green waste collection events will occur over the summer and will be advertised as they approach, McMorrow said.

North Tahoe Fire will also be treating about 250 acres of forests in their district, he said.

CalFire’s defensible space inspectors will be up in the Truckee-Tahoe area as well, said Chelsea Fox, spokesperson for CalFire, and can cite properties not in compliance for open space ” although that rarely happens.

“Citations are always a possibility but CalFire sees this as primarily an educational program ” it’s our responsibility to educate the property owner,” Fox said. “Property owners usually get two or three chances.”

Fines depending on the violation start at $100 and go up, she said.

Truckee Fire Protection District: 587-9432

North Tahoe Fire Protection District: 546-4347, 546-2212

Squaw Valley Fire Department: 583-6111

Northstar Fire Department: 562-1212

Meeks Bay Fire Protection District: 525-7548

Tahoe Donner Forestry: 587-9432

and#8734; Remove dead shrubs, dried grass, fallen branches and dried leaves 100 feet around your house.

and#8734; Trim and separate plants and shrubs to stop fire from spreading.

and#8734; Remove ladder fuels ” plants, shrubs and low branches that let a fire on the ground climb into the trees.

and#8734; Clear five feet around the base of the house and fill the space with fire resistant plants or materials such as rocks or gravel, remove fuels from the roof and gutters.

and#8734; Take care of the clean, open space around your home on a regular basis.

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