Preparing for Fire Season Starts Now - NBC 7 San Diego

Preparing for Fire Season Starts Now

Fire inspectors start visiting homes to enforce county ordinances



    Firefighters could be coming to your door this week.

    Inspectors are checking if people are doing enough to protect their homes from wildfires.

    Already, Cal Fire has responded to 800 wildfire calls. That's two-and-a-half times the amount in the first four months last year.

    And officials are getting ready for the worst.

    Fiery Forecast for San Diego County

    [DGO] Fiery Forecast for San Diego County
    The latest severe fire map reveals a potentially fiery future for San Diego County. CalFire Capt. Mike Mohler talks with NBC 7's Tony Shin.
    (Published Wednesday, May 9, 2012)

    "We're seeing an increase already and we're not even into what we call 'peak,'" said Capt. Mike Mohler with Cal Fire.

    This fire season may be especially dangerous, as the winter months were relatively dry. Fire officials hired 14 additional inspectors to help residents comply with county ordinances for fire prevention.

    "Our last major fire siege we've had in San Diego was in 2007 and much of that vegetation has returned," Mohler said. "So it's not if we're going to have a large fire but when we're going to have a large fire. And we're prepared for that."

    Preparing for Fire Season Starts Now

    [DGO] Preparing for Fire Season Starts Now
    Capt. Mike Mohler from CAL FIRE tells NBC 7 reporter Chris Chan about the 14 additional inspectors added to help residents with wildfire prevention.
    (Published Tuesday, May 8, 2012)

    Click here to see a map of the areas in San Diego considered to be the highest risk during this fire season.

    The reason inspectors are going door-to-door this week is because now is the best time to start creating a defensible space around your home. Weeds and grass are still green and the temperatures are mild, so fires shouldn't catch in the midst of this yard-work, Mohler said.

    "The chance of having a fire while you're doing weed abatement in the later months -- the Junes the July's the Augusts -- you have a better chance of starting a fire and causing more damage than if you do it now when the plants are still holding fuel moisture," Mohler said. "It's much safer."

    Homes will have to pass an inspection, and are more likely to if brush is cleared and ice plants are planted around the perimeters of the home.

    But inspectors do see homes with tall weeds and other items growing against the houses, even in urban areas.

    "Even if you're in an urban area, you still wanna clear around your house," Mohler said.

    He said urban homes need to be especially aware of woodpiles stacked around the house and rain gutters with leaves in them.

    Cal Fire says if residents don't comply with the county ordinances, a contractor will be called in to make the changes and the homeowner will have to foot the bill.

    Here are a few tips from Cal Fire on how to make your home defensible:

    • Remove all dead plants, grass and weeds (vegetation).
    • Remove dead or dry leaves and pine needles from your yard, roof and rain gutters.
    • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees.
    • Remove branches that hang over your roof and keep dead branches 10 feet away from your chimney.
    • Relocate wood piles into an area at least 30 feet away from the perimeter of the house.
    • Remove or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.
    • Remove vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks.
    • Create a separation between trees, shrubs and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles, swing sets, etc.

     For the area 30 feet away from the perimeter of your house, follow these tips:

    • Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
    • Create horizontal spacing between shrubs and trees. (See diagram)
    • Create vertical spacing between grass, shrubs and trees. (See diagram)
    • Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches. However, they may be permitted to a depth of 3 inches if erosion control is an issue.

     For other tips in preparation for fire season, such as evacuation guides and the best emergency supply kits, click here.

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