Another View: Let's protect Auburn from fire

Another View
By: Kevin Hanley, mayor of Auburn
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John Adams once wrote, ?Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.? In Auburn, as the summer heat turns the green grass to brown, and the menacing hot winds blow, we once again confront the stubborn fact that we live in a tinderbox. The devastating 49 Fire, which destroyed 63 homes and businesses in north Auburn in August 2009, is a reminder of the threat that we face every summer. Wild land fire in Auburn is inevitable. But disaster doesn?t have to be our destiny. A catastrophic fire ? with the loss of loved ones, firefighters, homes, pets and precious memories ? can be prevented. Auburn residents have the power to create a safer place to live through personal responsibility, working with their neighbors, their fire services and with the Greater Auburn Area Fire Safe Council. What can you do? First, print the ?Homeowners Checklist? from, take 30 minutes on a Saturday morning or afternoon and assess what further steps you can take to make your home fire safe. It?s easy to do. The key is to provide 100-foot defensible space around your home. Trim trees, gather brush and call the inexpensive county chipper service. If you provide the defense, firefighters can go on the offense to knock down and extinguish the fire. Second, achieving more safety sometimes requires that neighbors work together as fire doesn?t obey property lines. The citizen-led Greater Auburn Area Fire Safe Council (GAAFSC) was formed to help neighbors work together to take proactive action to prevent a catastrophic fire. The GAAFSC has facilitated wood clearing projects from Penryn to various neighborhoods along the American River Canyon to north Auburn near Regional Park. The GAAFSC has organized hundreds of volunteers to clear flammable wood fuel at Robie Point and the American River Overlook. The neighbors in Grand Oaks neighborhood have done a great job for many years in removing wood fuel from their open spaces. And through our Project Canyon Safe Fund, we are lowering the cost of using goats in the Riverview neighborhood by 50 percent and supporting other maintenance projects such as removing French broom in the Aeolia Heights neighborhood. We are excited that the Sierra Nevada Conservancy last week awarded the City of Auburn a $147,690 grant to remove wood fuel from 60 acres along the American River Canyon. This is proactive action at its best. The GAAFSC is here to help. The next meeting of the GAAFSC is on Friday, June 15 at 9 a.m. in Room 10 at Auburn City Hall. We meet every third Friday morning of every month. You are welcome to attend one of our meetings in our common effort to save lives, homes, and businesses. We have a great opportunity to make Auburn a safer place to live. We can?t rely on the state or federal governments to ride in like John Wayne and save the day. But through personal responsibility and teamwork, Auburn can get the job done. It?s up to us. Kevin Hanley serves as mayor of Auburn and as chairman of the Greater Auburn Area Fire Safe Council.