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Another View: Are we prepared for wildfires?

By: Mark D'Ambrogi, chief, Auburn Fire Department
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Believe it or not the threat of wildfire will be very soon upon us once again here in the Sierra foothills. Last year statewide destruction due to wildfire was below previous years and below what is considered a ?normal? average. However, this is California and our wildfire history is not something to ignore; no matter how well prepared we think we are. In no way is our community immune from such potential disaster. Let?s not forget just a couple of years ago in North Auburn! What is our approach to wildfire in the community? Our approach is two-fold. First, when there is a report of a wildfire, as many fire agency resources as available closest to the reported location will respond quickly to control any fire. The objective here is to suppress fires when they are small before they increase in size and overwhelm our area fire resources. Second, this is where we need your help, creating ?defensible space? throughout our community. ?Defensible space? is the clearing of flammable and combustible vegetation from around your home or business; clear debris from your roof, remove overhanging tree branches, keep a ?lean, clean, and green? non-combustible landscape 30 feet around structures, remove leaves, needles, brush and limb trees in an area 70 feet or more from the 30 foot zone, and provide a visible address to your home or business. Although defensible space may not totally defend your home from wildfire, it will surely provide an upper hand for firefighting personnel in successfully performing the task at hand when need be. Other protective measures include large scale fuel reduction projects such as fuel breaks. Many areas of The American River Canyon Shaded Fuel Break have experienced a tremendous amount of work in the way of fuel reduction. This past year the community has come together with neighborhoods ?adopting? sections of the fuel break to maintain as a viable means of wildfire protection. The driving factor was the initial Project Canyon Safe community day on May 22, 2010, where 9 acres were cleared in one day by many individuals volunteering their time and resources for the overall benefit of the community. Keep a watch for information regarding the next Project Canyon Safe event for 2011. It?s a great way to meet and work side by side with other members of the community while achieving wildfire protection. I know this is quite a bit for us to tackle but I have seen amazing results. The ?us?, that is all of us collectively ? public agencies and citizens alike ? continue to strengthen our relationship and resources to develop a fire safe community. I will once again ask for an all-out community effort to tackle our vegetation management issues and take the lead in making our community wildfire safe. Be it weeds, brush, or trees, let?s do our part, eliminate the potential hazards now. Help a friend, assist a neighbor, and prepare our community. Getting your neighborhood involved like so many of you have done is a terrific start. As always, the Greater Auburn Area Fire Safe Council, a citizen organization focused on our community wildfire issues, is there to assist and help. Get involved and be in the ?know.? Now more than ever we all need to make ?things happen? before a disaster is upon our community. How will you contribute in protecting our community from wildfire? Mark D?Ambrogi is the chief of the Auburn Fire Department.