Governor Brown declared May 6-12, 2012 as Wildfire Awareness Week in an official proclamation on May 7th. Wildfires are a natural, periodic occurrence in California. Many native species depend on cyclical fires for survival. Unfortunately, this natural process often conflicts with human land use, and careless or malicious human activity causes many fires that would not have occurred naturally. In order to continue to enjoy the economic and recreational benefits of our wilderness lands, we must strive to achieve a balance between California’s fire ecology and the need to protect human life and property.
The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District responds to hundreds of wildland and grass fires annually. In many cases, these fires encroach on and endanger homes and structures. Throughout California, in an average year, wildfires burn 900,000 acres of California’s timber and grasslands. In 2007, one of the most severe fire years in state history, nearly 4,000 homes and numerous lives were lost. Our local area is not immune to large fires and 2011 marked the 20th anniversary of the devastating Oakland Hills Fire.
Our firefighters are trained, equipped, and prepared to fight these wildland fires, but firefighting alone cannot protect us. Every citizen, especially those living in fire-prone areas, has an important role in preventing loss of life and property from wildfire events. This week, we should all do our part to raise public awareness of the coming fire season and take steps to protect lives, homes and families in the event of a wildfire. Our fire crews will be out walking and talking to property owners in the urban interface and high fire hazard severity zones this week and throughout the fire season – educating people on steps to prepare their homes and properties for the wildfire threat.
For more information about defensible space and wildland fire preparedness………click here.