California fire officials’ expectations of a busy fire season are already being realized. Last week in particular there was an increase in the number of fires burning throughout Southern California, including San Diego County. Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District (RSFFPD) firefighters were dispatched to the largest of the first, the Springs Fire in Ventura County, last week as part of a California Office of Emergency Services type I strike team. They assisted with structure protection and fire suppression efforts.
Although the fire activity has subsided and Southern California has received some much-needed rain, the potential still remains for a large wildfire to occur in this area. Rainfall totals, which remain below average, and warm weather have contributed to the increase in dry fuels throughout the area. Locally, trees that are either diseased or dying have exacerbated the problem within the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District.
“We want to encourage everyone to be extra cautious this fire season,” said Tony Michel, Fire Chief. “By taking a few precautions, homeowners can do a lot to protect their property, home, and family.”
One of the most important things a homeowner can do is create and maintain a defensible space around their home. Clearing out the dead and dying vegetation as well as thinning gives firefighters a safe place to make a stand against threatening flames, which helps save homes and minimize property damage.
Removing combustible items away from your home will also help protect your home during a wildfire. Trash cans, firewood, tree branches, and any other combustible items that can catch on fire should be at least 10 feet away from any structure. Groundcover such as mulch should be kept at least 12 inches away from structures. Cleaning out the gutters on a regular basis will minimize the chance of your roof catching on fire. Dead leaves, twigs, and other debris that collect in rain gutters are easily ignited by flying embers.
Homeowners should also review their insurance policy and make sure they understand its scope. What is covered? What is not covered? How would one go about filing a claim? The more a policy holder knows before an emergency, the better prepared they will be should a disaster occur.
For more information on protecting your home from wildfires, as well as other life safety topics, please visit the RSFFPD website, www.rsf-fire.org.