15 May 2013

Carbon Canyon Brush & Weed Clearance Deadline Today

A card was received yesterday from the Chino Valley Fire District reminding residents in Carbon Canyon about brush and weed removal.  Today was the official deadline for getting rid of the flammable material that makes this area particularly susceptible to wildfires.

In particular, the card reminds residents that there are two zones to create defensible space with a total of 100 feet around the house to clear.

The first is a 30-foot perimeter around the residence is where dead or dying leaves, grasses and brush should be cleared from the ground, needles and leaves cleaned off of roofs and out of rain gutters and tree limbs cut back from at least six feet above ground and ten feet from chimneys.  In addition, vegetation should be pruned and taken away from near windows and it is recommended to have fire-resistant plants in landscaping around houses.

Then, there is an additional 70 feet in which leaves, twigs and branches should be removed and tree canopies maintained so that branches are at least ten feet away from other trees as well as any structures.

Finally, and this is key in hot and dry conditions, such as those experienced late last week and which likely will be the norm for much of the summer and fall, mowing, trimming and other use of power equipment should take place prior to 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. on hotter days.  Dry vegetation, like weeds and grasses, should not be removed by a mower, but with a trimmer.  Finally, the district recommends having a cell phone handy to call 9-1-1 in case of a fire and implores residents not to put themselves in harm's way when putting out a fire.

It is worth restating, incidentally, that this was one of the driest winters since official records were begun in the late 1870s.  The Los Angeles Times had an article just yesterday (read it here) pointing out that the lack of rainfall for most of January not only created early conditions for dried-out vegetation, but that a small burst of precipitation at the end of the month did not actually relieve the situation, but made it worse by allowing for new growth that would not have arisen if there had been more rain and which then dried out quickly in succeeding weeks, creating more hazardous conditions.  The massive fire in Ventura County was evidence of what can happen in these situations.

Fire preparedness has improved by a high order of magnitude in recent years compared to what it was in such conflagrations as 1990, 1978, 1958, 1929 and other major wildfire years, but conditions are also changing, as witnessed with the massive Freeway Complex Fire, which is already nearly five years old now.  Vigilance by everyone with a stake in Carbon Canyon from fire fighters, elected officials and residents continues to be crucial in minimizing the risks and hazards associated with wildland fires.

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