September 15, 2013

Don’t Let This Fire Season Be a Barn-Burner! We don’t want to sound like a broken fire alarm but a fire in the woods in Half Moon Bay along Highway 92 reminds us all to be vigilant – fire can and does happen here! We all need to do our part to ensure the safety of our COWmunity.

The Half Moon Bay fire was likely started by a careless driver throwing a lit cigarette butt out of their window – the Cal Fire investigation discovered an “unusually large number of discarded cigarette butts” in the area. Luckily, Cal Fire was able to knock down the fire quickly before more than an acre of eucalyptus and pine were burned. Cal Fire reminds us that, of course, throwing a lit cigarette out the window is illegal – not to mention very stupid and dangerous! Perpetrators can be held liable for firefighting costs.

This very dry season is primed for fire. Unfortunately – already this year Cal Fire has responded to hundreds of more fires and thousands more acres of burned land compared to last year. The dry weather has set the stage for a possibly brutal fire season. The natural landscape is already primed enough to burn – it certainly doesn’t need us to thoughtlessly start fires.

The Rim Fire that has burned for weeks near Yosemite National Park is a prime example. The fire is now the largest known to have burned in the Sierra Nevada, covering more than 250,000 acres – a staggering 385 square miles! Imagine if fully half of San Mateo County had gone up in flames and you’ll have a sense as to the size of the Rim Fire.. It has forced the shutdown of camp areas in Yosemite, caused evacuations, and destroying the livelihoods of locals in the area. It destroyed beloved summer camps and is the third-largest fire ever in California history. The culprit? Authorities now believe that the fire was started by a careless hunter with an illegal fire.

As we know, fire can strike even closer to home, with the devastating Oakland Hills fire still a memory in many people’s mind and smaller fires that have burned in Woodside itself. The fast-growing Morgan Fire near Mt. Diablo threatened structures and causing smoke advisories in three counties.

As we have said in prior fire seasons here and here; it pays to be prepared – CERPP and the Woodside Fire Protection District hold classes and offer advice on fire prevention and safety year-round. We all need to reduce the fire risk on our properties. Be sure to manage fuel loads through proper landscape management, keep the area around your home clear of debris and ladder fuels, and be very careful in your use of fire. We are all in this together and need to work together to keep the barn from burning.

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