By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
May 1, 2017 (San Diego) -- There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills! It’s also along the freeways, in open fields and vacant lots in your neighborhood. That lush green vegetation and pretty wildflowers from recent winter storms is now turning golden in color and soon to become dark brown, brittle and extremely dry. Fire season is already here and getting extremely dangerous quickly. We’ve already seen quite a few fast moving grass/brush fires throughout Southern California.
Our fuel moisture content was relatively high due to the rains, however, each day these warm temperatures that have been combined with low humidity and several wind warnings has depleted fuel moisture and fuels are now very flammable which moves fire at a very rapid rate of spread. Conditions will only worsen with less rain forecasted and summer months approaching.
Right now, everyone should have been or are assessing their property for the risk of wildfire. Direct flame impingement is not the primary cause of structures burned during wildfires. Even home not in the hillsides can be in danger as flying embers can ignite homes well over a mile away. This is when homes or buildings become a “Catchers-Mitt” of embers igniting structures.
A Catchers-Mitt are areas and items around your property where embers land on or embed themselves around structures during wildfires igniting things such as roofs, vents, patio furniture, wood piles, mulch in planter boxes, open ends of barrel tiles etc. When these ignite, they spread to your home. Roof debris such as pine needles, leaves, branches and bark, on the roof or rain gutters catch embers. Clean them!
Cover attic, eave and foundation vents with fire code approved wire mesh or install new vent types designed to prevent ember entry.
This is a very serious topic that we’ll be visiting this periodically throughout the summer months and into fall when the Santa Anas hit us.
In the meantime, be proactive and contact your local fire department for wildfire safety information and brush compliance codes specific to your neighborhood/community.
*Note: The information in this article was compiled from various sources. These suggestions are not a complete list of every preventative or loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace additional safety manuals or the advice of another qualified professional(s). We make no guarantee of results from use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.