March 15, 2014

Despite recent rains, because this year has been one of the driest in memory, the annual fire season has been extended. The Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center has issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for February through May, 2014. If their prediction is correct there will be elevated wildfire potential in most of the mountainous areas in California.

Indeed, in September, a wildfire threatened the community of Clayton, which is on the edge of Mount Diablo State Park, in Contra Costa County about 15 miles northeast of San Francisco. Twenty-five fire engines, four air tankers, three helicopters and more than 175 firefighters rushed to the scene. It quickly burned over 800 acres. State authorities ordered the evacuations of dozens of homes.

COWs need to be ever vigilant and take reasonable precautions in protecting thier “defensible space,” which is the space between your house or buildings and the surrounding untouched landscape that will likely burn during a wildfire. Fuel loads are reduced by removing brush, landscaping with the right sort of plants, and providing space for firefighters to defend your home. You may be eligible for Woodside’s Defensible Space Matching Program. The grant program matches dollars spent by the homeowners with dollars provided by the Town – with the idea that making individual homes safer makes the Town safer. The $25,000 fund will match up to $1,000 per qualifying homeowner, and is available on a first come first served basis.

The Woodside Fire Protection District reminds us that we need to think about what we would do in an emergency before that emergency occurs. They provide essential information in case the worst happens, and you and your family need to evacuate your home to escape from danger – whether due to fire, earthquake, or some other disaster. Evacuations in Town, if necessary, will be declared by the Town’s Emergency Operations Center group. The plan lists likely evacuation areas and routes, reminders of the necessity of neighbors helping neighbors, and thoughts on how to keep pets safe during an evacuation. It also has important safety checklists, information on the chain of command of public safety responders, and how evacuation stations will be managed safely in the event of an emergency. Useful maps of the different regions of Woodside and how they should evacuate are an integral section of the plan, and will definitely come in handy in case of emergency.

More important safety information can be found at the WFPD website. Check it out here.

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