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By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

April 30, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--We will be experiencing an extremely high fire danger for the next 72 plus hours.  High pressure is building over Southern California.  Lack of rain has resulted in critically low fuel moisture content level.  Warm temperatures with strong gusty off-shore winds will increase the threat of wildfire.

Wildfires affect everyone as resources from areas not serving in wildland urban interface (WUI) are called to assist leaving areas short staffed until personnel can be recalled.  Please advise homeowners to do their part by:

Creating Defensible Space

Create a zone around your house that will slow the wildfire down and possibly direct it around your home. To do this, you must view your yard as a fuel source. Fire will only burn if fuel is present. Fuel can be your landscaping, woodpiles, decks, etc. To create your defensible space, take the following steps within 30 feet of your home, 50 feet if you live in a heavily treed area or 100 feet if your home is on a hillside. If you live in California, a minimum of 100 feet is required (some areas may require more. Check with your local fire department).

  • Remove dead or dying trees and shrubs.
  • Keep trees and shrubs pruned. Branches should be a minimum of 6 feet from the ground and shrubs under trees should be no more than 18 inches high.
  • Mow your lawn regularly and dispose promptly of cuttings and debris.
  • Maintain your irrigation system.
  • Clear your roof, gutters and eaves of debris.
  • Trim branches so they do not extend over roof or near the chimney.
  • Move firewood and storage tanks 50 feet away from home and clear areas at least 10 feet around them.
  • Store flammable liquids properly.
  • Do not connect wooden fencing directly to your home.
  • Keep the grounds around your home free of pine needles.

Evacuate and Create a Plan

  • Become familiar with your community’s disaster preparedness plans and create a family plan. Identify escape routes from your home and neighborhood and designate an emergency meeting place for your family to reunite if you become separated.
  • If you are asked to evacuate, please do so immediately. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem!
  • Put together an emergency kit that includes first aid supplies; a portable NOAA weather radio; basic tools; a flashlight; work gloves; fresh batteries for each piece of equipment; clothing: blankets; baby items; prescription medications; extra car and house keys; extra eyeglasses; credit cards and cash; important documents, including insurance policies.

A well prepared home has the greatest chance of surviving a wildfire!

For additional information, news coverage/reporting, contact Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna