Property owners typically start thinking about the wildfire season in the fall, when dry Santa Ana winds kick up the fire threat a notch or two.
In reality, fire is a year-round threat in San Diego County, a point driven home last week with a handful of lightning-started brush fires in San Diego County’s backcountry and a 3,000-acre, weapon-started blaze aboard Camp Pendleton.
Local fire officials are saying that the past wet winter helped germinate a whole new generation of grass and weeds over land that has previously burned in the Cedar and Witch Creek wildfires. This thin, low-growing vegetation accelerates a fire’s progress, the experts say.
Other portions of our community still have 30- and 40-year-old brush growth that, if ignited, would be a serious threat to homes and businesses.
The owners of properties encroaching into wilderness areas understand the importance of clearing flammable materials within 100 feet of structures, of clearing gutters and areas under decks and porches of dead leaves and weeds and of keeping wood piles at least 50 feet away from homes.
But every homeowner, regardless of where they live, must become aware of potential fire hazards on their property. As the wildfires of 2003 and 2007 clearly demonstrated, flames do not discriminate between “rural” and “urban” environments.
We encourage every homeowner to do a little research to see what can be done to thwart the threat of fire. An excellent starting place is www.ReadySanDiego.org where an informative brochure, “Will You Be Prepared for the Next Wildfire,” can be downloaded. This is the same brochure, prepared by the county Office of Emergency Services, that was distributed last year to most county residents. Also, use the website to register your cell phone number and/or e-mail with AlertSanDiego, the county’s regional mass notification system.
While the peak fire season may still be a ways off, it’s a good idea to prepare now, well before it’s too late.