04 November 2010

Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council Update

Last night was the regular monthly meeting of the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council and some interesting items resulted:
  • A Chino Vallley Independent Fire District engineer, Frank Sexton, went over a very comprehensive program at the local level, called the Carbon Canyon Area Defensive Strategy.  This project has mapped out, in several geographic areas, sections of the Chino Hills side of the Canyon, with aerial photography overlaid on maps with streets, businesses and landmarks, fire hydrant locations, reservoir and other water-storage sites, and more.  This is now being revised to dovetail closely with a regional plan called the SOLAR (San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside counties) Multi-County Mutual Threat Zone Guide, which essentially seeks the same outcome: providing local agencies, fire commanders and units, and others with the best available information about the issues and challenges of fighting a fire within the Canyon.
  • It was also noted that many meteorologists are predicting a very dry winter, despite the early storms we had in October.  Naturally, the concern is that more wildfires will break out.
  • The project to remove the arundo donax that plagued Carbon [Canyon] Creek for many years is coming to a crucial juncture.  A contract will soon be let for the time-intensive and rigorous work of removing by hand the dead plant material that was sprayed a long time back and has now been fully treated, contained, and killed.  It is possible that this work could commence by the end of the year, ridding the Canyon of an insidious problem decades in the making.
  • HOWEVER, as pointed out by local residents, there is another significant problem with the Creek.  Namely, general plant growth and buildup has created a separate set of problems.  Fire hazard is one, especially when there are old palm trees with decades of dead frond accumulation.  Anyone who has seen a palm tree catch fire knows that they literally explode, sending dangerous sparks elsewhere.  Another is that the mass of growth leads to water levels rising and expanding.  During the 2004-05 storms, this caused the failure of a large section of Carbon Canyon Road near Oak Tree Estates that led to the closure of the highway for an extended period.  CalTrans District 8 has gone in and stabilized other parts of the road to the extent they can, but the real work that needs to be done is a thorough cleanup of the creek bed and banks, which was done in the past.  The Council will be looking into a partnership with SAWA (Santa Ana Watershed Authority, which is working on the arundo project) to seek the development of a plan to clear out the creek.
  • Finally, the matter of transients in and around Sleepy Hollow seems to have died down to some extent, but it is reported that there are some still in the vicinity.  The Council's concern simply deals with illegal campfires, which was the cause of the 1990 blaze that destroyed fourteen homes in the Canyon, mainly in Sleepy Hollow.  While preparedness and response have improved dramatically, transient-caused fires can still be a significant threat.  To what degree city and police officials are working on this is, however, debatable.
The Council is doing valuable work and encourages residents and others interested in the welfare of the Canyon to come to meetings and be active.  The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 1 December @ 7:00 p.m. in the Sleepy Hollow Community Center. 


Jack said...

You might check with the Orange County Fire Authority. They have an emergency program called Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) and they just qualified 14 new team members.

prs said...

Hello Jack, thanks for the comment and info on the CERT program. There are a number of CERT units in north Orange County, including Brea. In San Bernardino County, however, the closest is in Fontana. For those interested in more, check out: http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/

Chino Hills, though, has an emergency commnications group staffed by citizens called CHART. More info is available at: http://www.chinohills.org/index.aspx?nid=293