Pay attention to fire prevention

Last week reminded us of the attention we must pay to our own surroundings.

CalFire officials must have known something when they declared last week Wildfire Awareness Week. No sooner had they sent their first news releases than the Jesusita fire broke out in Santa Barbara, destroying nearly 80 homes and forcing 30,000 to evacuate.

We've seen it happen here, and it's likely to happen again, so the state fire officials' advice on ways to protect your home should be heeded: "You provide the defense. We provide the offense."

Their emphasis on creating a 100-foot perimeter of defensible space around our homes is critical in increasing the odds that firefighters can save them. Look at Santa Barbara. While sometimes even that doesn't help, if you've seen aerial footage or interviews with homeowners thanking firefighters, the evidence is there that clearing brush helps.

So does the type of roof you have, how close wood piles and propane tanks are to your house, and even what type of plants you have. And now, with water restrictions upon us, we need to pay even closer attention to the state of our property. When those trees and bushes go brown, the fire fuel expands. So keep an eye on what happens when you cut down on watering.

And be careful when you do go out to clean out those weeds and brush. The cause of the Santa Barbara fire is reported to have been someone clearing brush with a power tool. Don't do it when there's a Red Flag warning posted, and if you're not sure if it's safe, check with your local fire department.

If it sounds like we're harping on fire prevention, we are. If we don't do our part, firefighters won't have a fighting chance when the next big fire hits our area.

   
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