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LIVING WITH FIRE A Homeowner’s Guide

Published by:

July 2010

In conjunction with:

Plumas County

Sierra County


Page 2 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living With Fire • Page 19

PC FSC Board Members

What is the Plumas County Fire Safe Council (PC FSC) PC FSC was organized in 1998, became a non-profit corporation in 2002, and has since worked very hard to provide community support for wildfire mitigation countywide.

. . . helping Plumas and Sierra County residents live more safely with the threat of wildfire

Brian West, Mike Callaghan Jay Skutt Andy Anderson Jim Hamblin

Frank Stewart Dale Meese Allan Setzer Mike De Laseaux Scott Abrams

PC FSC Mission Statement: “To reduce the loss of natural and manmade resources caused by wildfire through Firewise community programs and pre-fire activities.”

PC FSC PLANS PC FSC Has developed a number of plans to assist homeowner and communities better understand the risks, mitigation measures and if necessary preparations for evacuations. Community Wildfire Protection Plan PC FSC has a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) which was developed to outline the risks and hazards associated with a wildland fire threat to Plumas County communities and to identify potential mitigation measures. The Plumas County Communities Wildland Fire Mitigation Plan is intended to provide documentation of implementing actions designed to reduce wildfire risk to homes and communities through education and outreach programs, the development of partnerships, and implementation of preventative activities such as hazardous fuel reduction, defensible space, land use, or building codes. A CWPP is necessary for FSC’s to obtain funding assistance from the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, State of California, and other grantors.

Living in a High Wildfire Hazard Area The potential for loss of human life and property due to wildfire in Plumas and Sierra counties is growing. In response, local, state, federal, private, and nonprofit organizations have banded together to create Living With Fire, a wildfire threat reduction program for homeowners.

Important Information provided in the Plan includes:  Fire frequency and history  Wildfire Threats to communities & homes  Wildland fire behavior factors, influences, and elements affecting property and resource damage.  Maps of Fire History, communities at risk, land ownership, fire protection districts and others  Mitigation strategies are prioritized by zone, with the highest priority being the structure ignition zone and working outward. o Mitigation strategies areas of focus: A. Information, Education, and Planning B. Reducing Structure Ignitability C. Enhancing Suppression Capabilities and Public Safety D. Hazardous Fuel Reduction Mitigation strategies

The Living With Fire program is not about fire prevention. Its purpose is to teach people how to live more safely with the threat of wildfire. For many areas in our two counties, it is not a question of “if ” wildfire will occur, but “when.”

Home Survivability Why do some houses survive a wildfire, while others are destroyed? Research findings prove that house survival during a wildfire is not random, miraculous or “dumb luck.” Rather it is how the house is built, the characteristics of the surrounding vegetation, and routine maintenance that often determine which homes burn and survive.

Photo courtesy Jack Cohen, USFS

Pre-fire actions completed before a wildfire, by the resident, often determine the survivability of structures. The “winners” will be those people who implement and maintain pre-fire activities. The homeowner has the largest role in determining whether or not a structure burns in a wildfire.

HUMAN BEHAVIOR IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS FIRE BEHAVIOR IN SAVING YOUR HOME BEFORE THE FIRE BEFORE THE FIRE

DURING THE DURING THEFIRE FIRE

AFTER THE AFTER THEFIRE FIRE

http://www.plumasfiresafe.org/fire_plan.htm

Greenhorn 1990

Portola 1988

WILDLAND FIRE PREPARATION & EVACUATION PLAN PLUMAS COUNTY

Will you be ready for Wildland Fire? Have you done all you can to protect your home before wildfire strikes? Do you know what to do if fire is approaching? Do you know what to do when evacuating and where to go? Do you know what to do if wildfire strikes your community? IF NOT, THIS BROCHURE MAY BE OF HELP TO YOU.

http://www.plumasfiresafe.org/evac.htm Plumas County Fuels Assessment & Strategy The Fuels Assessment and Strategy was developed to provide citizens, communities, land managers, and decision makers, a better understanding of the fuel hazard across Plumas County, especially within the community wildland-urban interface. Projected fire behavior is displayed for the County with fuel treatment recommendations. It helps to develop a priority-based strategy for addressing the risk." http://www.plumasfiresafe.org/assessment.htm

is a natural part of our environment. Forest and rangelands were burning long before Sierra County was settled in the 1800ʼs. Whether you are a full time resident or vacation homeowner, you need to think about the very real possibility of a major wildfire threatening your community. This is where defensible space comes in, California State Law (PRC 4291) requires you to have defensible space. The best thing you can do is to make sure your home can stand alone. The homeowner is the most important person when it comes to preparing for a wildfire. You need to understand your local fire threat and learn what to do about it.

Prior to the fire, this homeowner changed the roof material from wood shakes to fire-resistant tiles and reduced the amount of flammable vegetation surrounding the home. These pre-fire activities helped this house survive the fire.

The Sierra County Fire Safe and Watershed Council is a non-profit corporation made up of concerned citizens who recognize the need to raise public awareness of wildfire related issues. Contact the Council to schedule a free Defensible Space Consultation at 530-249-0444.


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Protecting Your Community From Destruction by Wildfire So all the homes in your community are prepared for a wildfire. • What about the areas between the homes and around the community? • The Forest: Trees, Wildlife Habitat, View, Aesthetics, and Reasons you chose to live there?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living With Fire • Page 3

Wildfire will threaten your house in three ways…

Experience & Science shows that not only homes, but that forests can survive a wildfire. What is Needed? Reducing fuel loading in the community zone will minimize fire damage on areas which include vacant lots, common areas, green belts, and undeveloped lands surrounding communities. Fuel treatment in this zone will not only protect more homes, but the beauty, trees, and wildlife which surround homes. Key to reducing catastrophic stand replacing wildfire in the community zone is Hazardous Fuel Reduction (HFR). This requires creating horizontal and vertical separation of plants and trees, while removing excess fuel. Similar to the 30-100 foot reduced fuel zone (see pages 12-14). PC FSC has worked in 15 communities to reduce hazardous fuels, on 2,500 acres, in and around those communities since 2003. Does it work? “The Angora Fire demonstrated that some houses had burned due to a lack of defensible space and/or continuous fuelbeds, such as pine needles, that lay adjacent to burnable parts of the homes. Conversely, many homes were protected or had spot fires extinguished by firefighters who were able to take “close-in” suppression actions because defensible space and other fuels treatments provided safety zones in which they could safely work” The Emergency California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission Report, May 2008

Key Report Findings. Angora Fire preliminary fire effects assessment Ongoing study. Report Version 2: July 19, 2007 Hugh Safford, Regional Ecologist, Pacific SW Region Angora fuels treatments 1996-2005: • Fuels treatments significantly reduced tree canopy continuity and surface fuels in the area adjacent to the Tahoe Paradise subdivision, • Fuels treatments significantly decreased tree mortality (77% in untreated areas, versus about 21% in treated areas) • Fuels treatments significantly lowered flame lengths and reduced the effects of fire to the tree canopy (32 feet in the untreated area, compared to about 7.5 feet in treated area) • Fuels treatments in the Angora Creek area significantly changed fire behavior, reduced fire effects to the ecosystem, and acted to slow and ameliorate the intensity of the fire as it approached homes in the Tahoe Paradise subdivision View the entire report at: http://www.foresthealth.org/pdf/Safford_AngoraFireEffects_v2_7-19-07.pdf Fire Behavior and Effects Relating to Suppression, Fuel Treatments, and Protected Areas on the Antelope Complex, Wheeler Fire- August 2007 • Treated areas had significantly reduced fire behavior and tree and soil impacts compared to untreated areas. • Treated areas were utilized during suppression along several flanks of the fire for both direct attack with dozers and handcrews, as well as for indirect attack with burn operations. View the entire report at: http://www.qlg.org/pub/miscdoc/antelopefireanalysis.pdf Cone Fire Tests Fuel Reduction Treatment Effectiveness In 2002, a wildfire burned through a study area, in the Blacks Mountain Experimental Forest, where varying fuel treatment methods were employed. Results indicate that there was much less mortality in the treated stands than the untreated stands. For more information go to: www.fs.fed.us/psw/programs/ecology_of_western_forests/projects/cone_fire_new/

CONTACT BY FLAMES

This type of threat occurs when vegetation and other fuels burning near the house produce flames that come in contact with the home and ignite it. Often, it happens when fire burns through a uniform layer of vegetation right up to the house. Direct contact by flames is probably what most homeowners visualize when they think of a house burning during wildfire.

RADIATED HEAT

Radiated heat melted the vinyl siding on this house. Flames never came in contact with it. Radiated heat is produced by invisible electromagnetic waves that travel out in all directions from a flame. When a house receives enough radiated heat for sufficient time, it will ignite. Sometimes radiated heat can burst windows and allow burning embers to enter the house.

FLYING EMBERS

More houses burn due to flying embers than any other reason. If fire conditions are right, ember can be lofted high into the air and transported more than a mile. Burning embers can also be carried by wind and fire whirls. If these burning embers land in easily ignitable materials, a new fire can start.

“Itisisnot notwhere where your home is located necessarily determines the ignition It’s howthe ignitable the is as "It your home is located thatthat necessarily determines the ignition risk. It'srisk. how ignitable house is ashouse determined determined by the Home Ignition Zone” by the Home Ignition Zone" Jack Cohen, Cohen, USFS USFS Fire FireResearcher Researcher Jack

What can homeowners & communities do to reduce wildfire threat? The Living With Wildfire threat reduction recommendations are presented according to four zones…. D e fe ns ib l e Spa c e Z o ne

This zone pertains to the vegetation surrounding your home, both ornamental and landscape plants and native plants.

A c c ess Z o n e

This zone provides suggestions that help emergency responders locate your home in a timely manner.

C o mmu n i ty Z o n e

Forest Survival following the Stream Fire – Prior to the fire, surface, ladder, and canopy fuels were thinned and removed, creating a fire resilient stand which survived the fire. (Photo by Jerry Hurley)

Forest Death following the Stream Fire – Like too much of our forests, this is an example of post-fire effects on untreated stands following the catastrophic stand-replacing wildfire. (Photo by Jerry Hurley)

This zone is outside and between the Defensible Space Zones. Efforts are to minimize fire damage on undeveloped areas which include vacant lots, common areas, green belts, and undeveloped lands.

Bu i lt Z o n e

This zone provides recommendations for home construction.


Page 4 • Living With Fire

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Access Z one This zone provides suggestions that help emergency responders locate your home in a timely manner and to provide emergency equipment and personnel SAFE access to structures, while allowing residents to concurrently evacuate SAFELY.

Living With Fire • Page 17

Special Thanks & Acknowledgement

FIRE SAFETY Street Signs: Street signs should be posted at each intersection leading to your home. Sign characters should be at least 3 inches high, reflective, and non-combustible.

Living With Fire: A Guide for the Homeowner, was written by Ed Smith, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, with assistance from Sonya Sistare, Living With Fire program assistant. Graphic design provided by Lucy Walker, Office of Marketing and Communications, University of Nevada, Reno. Illustration services provided by Kirah Van Sickle and Animania, LLC. Funding for that project was provided by a National Fire Plan grant from the USDA Forest Service/Nevada Division of Forestry. For more information about Living With Fire, contact Ed Smith, (775)782-9960 or smithe@unce.unr.edu; or Sonya Sistare, (775)784-4848 or sistares@unce.unr.edu.

for Horse Owners Tips for minimizing the threat to you and your horse during a wildfire.

Turnouts: Homes located along long narrow dead end streets and driveways over 800 feet should have turnouts every 400 feet that will allow two-way traffic.

Address: The home address should be visible from the street, made of reflective, noncombustible material with characters at least 3 inches high

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Driveway Clearance: Remove vegetation from both sides of the driveway, extending at least 10 feet and at least a 15foot vertical clearance above driveway.

Copyright © 2005 3rd edition - July, 2005

For more information visit: www.plumasfiresafe.org/equin.htm or Contact: High Mountain Riders

Topper’s TREE SERVICE Hazard Removal • Fire Safe Clean-up • Fuel Reduction Dave Sims

Turnarounds: Homes located at the end of long driveways or dead end roads should have turnaround areas suitable for large fire equipment. Turnarounds can be a cul-de-sac with at least a 45-foot radius or a location suitable for a three-point turn.

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Page 16 • Living With Fire

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Want to Burn Your Yard Debris? Residents in Plumas County are urged to do their debris burning during winter or early spring, but be careful as we transition from spring to early summer. Escaped debris burns are the number one cause of human caused fires on the Plumas National Forest. Escaped debris burns are often the result of a pile left unattended or burning when windy. Debris burning can be a very effective means of reducing fire hazards around your home and land if handled properly and safely. However, remember that the person doing the burning is financially responsible for suppression costs and damages if the debris burn escapes. Also remember that burning out of hours could result in an emergency fire dispatch to your home, in which you may be cited and charged for the personnel and equipment time. Burning Permits are required beginning May 1st through June 30th. A burn ban is in effect from July 1st through October yearly regardless of the weather.

Defensible Space Zone This zone consists of two areas around the structure: 1. Lean, Clean, Green Areas for 0-30’ 2. Reduced Fuel Zone from 30-100’ See Six Steps to creating defensible space for more information

Escaped debris burns are the number one cause of human-caused fires on the Plumas National Forest.

Please follow these fire-safe guidelines while burning:  Green or wet vegetation should be dried 3-6 weeks before burning to reduce your smoke impact on the community. Fire Prevention specialists recommend covering your burn piles with plastic or similar material in the fall before the rain to allow for easy ignition of the piles during very wet weather.  Keep pile size at 4 feet in diameter or less. If burn piles are larger than 4’ x 4’ , a special permit is needed and the piles must be inspected by a District Fire Prevention Officer.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

 Make sure area within 10 feet of outer edge of pile is free and clear of any vegetation on the ground. Construct your control lines down to mineral soil.  An adult must be in attendance with a shovel until the fire is dead out.  A water supply is required at the burning site.  Don’t burn when windy.  Have in possession a valid burning permit.  Make sure your fire is out! Check the burn area before leaving it, even after you think it is dead out.

•Burn only on days approved by the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District. Call any of the following numbers to find out if it is a permissive burn day: Plumas: Portola: 832-4528 Quincy: 283-3602 Greenville: 284-6520 Chester: 258-2588

Sierra: Eastern Sierra County: 994-3561 Western Sierra County: 289-3662

Reduced Fuel Area: The Wildland Fuel Reduction Area usually lies beyond the residential landscape area Within this area:  Remove all dead vegetation (dead shrubs, dried grass, fallen branches, pine needles, etc.).  Thin out thick shrubs and trees to create a separation between them.  Remove “ladder fuels” by removing low tree branches, removing or pruning shrubs under trees.

Living With Fire • Page 5

Lean, Clean, and Green Area: For a distance of at least 30 feet from the home.  “Lean” -only a small amount of flammable vegetation present,  “Clean” - no accumulation of dead vegetation or flammable debris within the area  . “Green” plants located within this area are kept healthy, green, and irrigated during fire season. For most homeowners, this area often has irrigation, contains ornamental plants, and is routinely maintained.

Noncombustible Area: Create a “Noncombustible Area” at least 3 feet wide around the base of your home. This area needs to have a very low potential for ignition from flying embers. Use irrigated plants, rock mulches, or hard surfaces. Keep it free of woodpiles, dead plants, dried leaves, needles, flammable shrubs and debris.

Note: For air quality reasons, burning is banned completely at any time throughout the year in the downtown Quincy and East Quincy portions of the American Valley. To obtain a burning permit or have your questions answered regarding residential burning, please contact or visit a local Forest Service or Cal Fire Office: Mt. Hough Ranger District Office- 39696 State Highway 70, Quincy, Ca. -283-0555 Greenville Work Center- 122 Hot Springs Road Greenville, Ca. - 284-7126 Beckwourth Ranger District Office- Mohawk Road, Blairsden, Ca. - 836-2575 Almanor Ranger District Office- Highway 36, Chester, Ca. – 258-2141 Sierraville Ranger District Office- 317 S. Lincoln St., Sierraville, Ca. – 994-3401 Cal Fire – Westwood Fire Station – 3rd and Greenwood, Westwood, Ca. – 256-3203 Cal Fire – Truckee Fire Station – 10277 Truckee-Tahoe Airport Rd., Ca. – 582-5730 Sierra Fire Protection Distict – 100 S. Garson Rd., Verdi, Nev. – (775) 345-0358 The Plumas National Forest issues burn permits under an agreement with Cal-Fire. Your Burn Permit will further explain the latest regulations and recommendations.

SPI believes in wise use of OUR forests. Fire safety is our concern; please make it yours also. Healthy, productive forests are safe forests.

FORESTS ARE AMERICA’S #1 RENEWABLE RESOURCE

SIERRA PACIFIC INDUSTRIES Quincy

“Taking pride in everything we do.”


Page 6 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 DOES DEFENSIBLE SPACE REQUIRE A LOT OF BARE GROUND IN MY LANDSCAPE? No. Unfortunately, many people have this misconception. While bare ground is certainly effective in reducing the wildfire threat, it is unnecessary and unacceptable due to appearance, soil erosion, and other reasons. Many homes have attractive, well-vegetated landscapes that also serve as effective defensible space.

Built Zone This zone focuses on the areas most vulnerable to either direct flame contact or embers. Most homes are ignited from blowing embers.

Chimneys: Screened with ½ inch wire mesh or approved spark arrestor.

Eaves: Heat traps for hot air and gases. “Box in” to allow heat to escape.

Roof: Class A/fireresistant. Keep free of needles, leaves and branches.

Foundation & Attic Vents: Unscreened vents allow embers into the structure.

Firewood: Not stored next to the house. Keep at least 30’ from house.

Siding: In fire-prone areas use noncombustible siding, such as stucco, brick or cement board.

Windows: Install windows that are double-pane with at least one pane of tempered glass.

Gutters: Keep free of needles, leaves, and debris.

In 2004, PC FSC was recognized by the US Forest Service Chief with the Rural Community Assistance National Leadership Award for, “Outstanding accomplishments through their exceptional leadership, vision, and perseverance in working collaboratively to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in Plumas County.”

Decks: Enclose underside with ¼” wire mesh or nonflammable material. Keep free of combustible materials.

Embers created from torching trees and burning structures cause most homes to ignite. Most houses are burned by embers: • landing on shake roofs BE • igniting uncleared vegetation next to the house EMBER • igniting firewood next to the house AWARE! • igniting vegetation under decks • blowing into unscreened attic/crawl space vents • igniting combustible materials on decks

Professional Forestry Consulting Danielle Banchio, RPF #2808

(530) 284-1800 NORTH

VALLEY

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Living With Fire • Page 15

Timber Harvest Planning • Forest Management Timber Appraisal & Inventory • GIS/GPS Services

WHAT IS DEFENSIBLE SPACE? Defensible space is the area between a house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been modified to reduce the wildfire threat and to provide an opportunity for firefighters to effectively defend the house. Sometimes, a defensible space is simply a homeowner’s properly maintained backyard. WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VEGETATION AND WILDFIRE THREAT? Many people do not view the plants growing on their property as a threat. But in terms of wildfire, the vegetation adjacent to their homes can have considerable influence upon the survivability of their houses. All vegetation, including plants native to the area and ornamental plants, is potential wildfire fuel. If vegetation is properly modified and maintained, a wildfire can be slowed, the length of flames shortened, and the amount of heat reduced, all of which assist fighters in defending the home against an oncoming wildfire. THE FIRE DEPARTMENT IS SUPPOSED TO PROTECT MY HOUSE, SO WHY BOTHER WITH DEFENSIBLE SPACE? Some individuals incorrectly assume that a fire engine will be parked in their driveway and firefighters will be actively defending their homes if a wildfire approaches. During a major wildfire, it is unlikely there will be enough firefighting resources available to defend every home. In these instances, firefighters will likely select homes they can most safely and effectively protect. Even with adequate resources, some wildfires may be so intense that there may be little firefighters can do to prevent a house from burning. The key is to reduce fire intensity as wildfire nears the house. This can be accomplished by reducing the amount of flammable vegetation surrounding a home. Consequently, the most important person in protecting a house from wildfire is not a firefighter, but the property owner. And it is the action taken by the owner before the wildfire occurs (such as proper landscaping) that is most critical.

Donʼt let wildfire ʻbrandʼ your house a loser; do what you can now to protect your investment from the destructive effects of wildfire and its deadly firebrands.

DOES CREATING A DEFENSIBLE SPACE REQUIRE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS OR EQUIPMENT? No. For the most part, creating a defensible space employs routine gardening and landscape maintenance practices, such as pruning, mowing, weeding, plant removal, appropriate plant selection, and irrigation. Equipment needed includes common tools such as a chain saw, a pruning saw, pruning shears, loppers, a weed-eater, a shovel, and a rake. A chipper, compost bin, or large rented trash dumpster may be useful in disposing of unwanted plant material. HOW BIG IS AN EFFECTIVE DEFENSIBLE SPACE? Defensible space size is not the same for every home, but varies by slope and type of wildland vegetation growing near the house. See “Step One” on page 12. DOES DEFENSIBLE SPACE MAKE A DIFFERENCE? Yes. Investigations of homes threatened by wildfire indicate that those with an effective defensible space are much more likely to survive a wildfire. Furthermore, homes with both an effective defensible space and a nonflammable roof (composition shingles, tile, metal, etc.) are many times more likely to survive a wildfire. Defensible space also allows firefighters to effectively and safely defend your home. DOES HAVING A DEFENSIBLE SPACE GUARANTEE MY HOUSE WILL SURVIVE A WILDFIRE? No. Under extreme conditions, almost any house can burn. However, having a defensible space will significantly improve the odds of your home surviving a wildfire.

Photo Courtesy USFS

Trees and Power Lines Planting Tip — Plant the "Right Tree in the Right Place." Planting trees under power lines can pose electrical shock hazards and fire safety risks. To stay safe, keep the lights on and reduce the risk of fire, plant: • Medium and large trees 50 feet to the side of transmission lines, poles and towers. • Medium and large trees 30 feet to the side of distribution lines and poles. For more information visit pge.com/trees or for California tree selections visit www.selectree.calpoly.edu. To request a "Guide to Planting Small Trees Near Distribution Lines” call 1-800-743-5000, or email RightTreeRightPlace@pge.com. Specify: Northern CA, Central CA or Bay Area/Inland.

Power Line Tree Planting Guidelines

WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE LIVING IN A HIGH FIRE HAZARD AREA CREATE A DEFENSIBLE SPACE? The specific reasons for not creating a defensible space are varied. Presented on page 11 are responses to common excuses for not creating defensible space.

Transmission Line

50 ft. 30 ft. Distribution Line

Nuisance or Problem? The amount of heat which can cause a 2nd degree burn in 5 seconds would need to last for 30 minutes to ignite wood siding on a house. However, the tiny match-like embers which land on skin and cause a minor annoyance are responsible for most homes burning.

Large and Medium Trees

Small Trees

No Trees

Plant the "Right Tree in the Right Place."


Page 14 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tree Pruning recommendations Tree based onPruning height of fuelrecommendations below based on height of fuel below

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living With Fire • Page 7

Community Zone This zone is beyond the “Defensible Space Zone”. Reducing fuel loading in this zone will minimize fire damage on areas which include vacant lots, common areas, green belts, and undeveloped lands surrounding communities. Fuel treatment in this zone will not only protect more homes, but the beauty, trees and wildlife which surround your homes Remove flammable vegetation and dispose of properly. Manage vegetation to prevent “ladder fuel’ occurrence.

3x

x Defensible space within a continuous tree canopy:

If keeping a larger stand of trees with continuous tree canopy: • prune lower branches of trees to a height of six to 15 feet from the top of the vegetation occurring below (or lower 1/3 of branches for small trees). Properties with greater fire potential (steep slopes) will require pruning heights in the upper end of this range. • remove all ground fuels greater than four inches in height. Single specimens of trees or other vegetation may be kept if they are wellspace, well-pruned and create and overall condition that avoids the spread of fire to other vegetation or to structures.

Step Five Step Five

Create a Lean, Clean, and Green Create a Lean, Clean, Green Area extending at leastand 30 feet from the house: Area extending at least 30 feet There are two goals for the Lean, Clean, from theArea. house: and Green The first goal is to eliminate There two goals Lean, Clean, easilyare ignitable fuels,for orthe “kindling,” near the house. This will The help first prevent from and Green Area. goalembers is to eliminate starting a easily ignitable fuels, or “kindling,” near the fire in your The second is to keep house. This yard. will help preventgoal embers from fire intensity low if it does ignite near the starting a house. By proper management of the fuels fire inthe your yard. Thewould second goal is toto keep near house, a fire not be able fire intensity lowheat if it does ignite near the generate enough to ignite home. house. Bythe proper management of the fuels For most homeowners, the Lean, Clean, near the house, a fire would not be ableand to Green Area is also the residential landscape. generate enough heat This area often has irrigation, is planted with toornamental ignite the vegetation, home. and is regularly For most homeowners, the Lean, Clean, and maintained. Green Area is also the residential landscape. This area often has irrigation, is planted with ornamental vegetation, and is regularly maintained.

Living With Fire A Special Supplement created by the staff of

Feather Publishing Co., Inc., and the Plumas County Fire Safe Council Jerry Hurley, Steve Fowler, Ron Heinbockel, Steven Ross, Heather Munn, Jason Moghddas, Pete Duncan, Cindy Noble, Mike Freschi, Dale Knutsen, Chuck Bowman Fire Safe Council contributors Plumas County Fire Safe Council: www.plumasfiresafe.com Sierra County Fire Safe and Watershed Council: www.scfswc.com

Michael C. Taborski, Publisher Sherri McConnell, Advertising Manager Tom Forney, Production Manager Feather Publishing: P.O. Box B, 287 Lawrence St., Quincy, CA 95971 (530) 283-0800 • FAX (530) 283-3952 email: mail@plumasnews.com

Step Six Step Six

Maintain the Defensible Space Zone: Maintain the Defensible Space Maintaining a defensible space is an Zone: ongoing activity. Plants grow back and

Maintaining a defensible space isroutinely an ongoing flammable vegetation needs to be activity . Plants grow back and flammable vegeremoved and disposed of properly. Before each fire season, your removed property using tation needs reevaluate to be routinely and disthe previous five.steps and implement the posed of properly Before each fire season, necessary defensible space recommendations. reevaluate your property using the previous five steps and implement the necessary defensiLean, Clean, and Green Area ble space recommendations.

Managing Fuel Requires:  Reducing the volume  Creating Horizontal Separation  Creating Vertical Separation

Forests and Communities can survive the intrusion of a wildfire.  Forests, like homes, can and do survive the intrusion of a wildfire.  Wildfires don’t have to be catastrophic stand replacing events.  Critical to managing fire behavior and its effects, is managing the fuels

Tips

• Remove most or all flammable wildland

Lean, Green Area Tips plants, Clean, includingand sagebrush, bitterbrush, rabbitbrush, and manzanita. • Remove mostcheatgrass, or all flammable wildlandIf you wish to retain a few of these as specimen plants, including sagebrush, bitterbrush, rabplants, make sure they aremanzanita. free of deadIf wood bitbrush, cheatgrass, and you and leaves, pruned to reduce the amount of wish to retain a few of these as specimen fuel, and separated from adjacent brush fields. plants, sure they are free dead wood • Selectmake less flammable plants forofthe home and leaves, pruned to reduce the amount of landscape. Some rules of thumb in selecting landscape plants forfrom the Lean, Clean, and fields. fuel, and separated adjacent brush Green Area are... • Select less flammable plants for the home • Shorter plants, less than 2 feet tall, are better landscape. Some rules of thumb in selecting choices than taller plants. landscape plants for the Lean, Clean, and • Green, herbaceous plants, such Green Area as grass andare... non-woody flowers, are better • Shorter plants, less and thantrees. 2 feet tall, are better choices than shrubs choices than taller plants. • Green, herbaceous plants, such as grass and non-woody flowers, are better choices than shrubs and trees. • Deciduous shrubs and trees are better choices than evergreen types. Avoid planting juniper, mugo pine and arborvitae. • Emphasize the use of hard surfaces and mulches. Hard surfaces include materials such as concrete, asphalt, and brick. Mulches include rock and wood types. Wood mulches should not be used within 3 feet of the house. • Clear all flammable vegetation from within 10 feet of the propane tank. • Remove tree limbs that are within 10 feet of the chimney, touching the house or deck, within 6 feet of the roof, or encroaching on power lines. • Create a noncombustible area at least 3 feet wide around the base of the house. Emphasize the use of irrigated herbaceous plants, such as lawn, ground covers, and flowers. Also use rock mulches and hard surfaces.

Lean, Clean & Green Zone

Fuel Treatment in the Community Zone should replicate that in the “Reduced Fuel Zone” (30-70’) of Defensible Space.

Reduced Fuel Zone

PC FSC has helped 17 communities seek funds to treat 2,500 acres in and around their community

If we are going to affect fire on a landscape level, we need to reduce fuels on a landscape level. Following the 2003 Southern California Wildfires, where 742,000 acres were burned, 3,361 structures destroyed and 26 lives were lost, a Governorʼs Blue Ribbon Commission recommended that the State increase the requirement for Defensible Space from 30 to 100 feet.


Page 8 • Living With Fire

Submitted by Dale Knutsen and Chuck Bowman

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Firewise F irewise C Communities/USA ommunities/USA

What is Firewise F C itizen involvement involvement is is the the cornerstone cornerstone Citizen off Firewise o Firewise Communities/USA Communities/USA Recognition R ecognition Program. Program. As As a resident resident whose w hose home home iiss llocated ocated iin n a rregion egion ssusceptible usceptible to to wildfires, wildffires, this this program program can can help h elp your your community community become become Firewise Fir re ewise. T he n ational F irewise C ommunities The national Firewise Communities p program rogram iiss a multi-agency multi-agency effort effort de designed signed tto o rreach each b beyond eyond tthe he ffire ire sservice ervice b nvolving homeowners, homeowners, community community byy iinvolving lleaders, eaders, planners, planners, developers, developers, and and others others iin n tthe he eeffort ffort tto op protect rotect p people, eople, p property, roperty, aand nd natural natural rresources esources ffrom rom tthe he iimpacts mpacts o off wildland wildland fire fire - before a fire starts starrts. Why Fire Firewise ewise T The he F Firewise irewise P Program rogram ddepends epends on on ccommunity ommunity iinvolvement. nvolvement. N eighbors Neighbors w working orkkiing together together to to m make ake ttheir heir iindividual ndividual ssurroundings urroundings and and their their ccommunity ommunity safer safer from from wildfires. wildffires. For For eexample xample ffollowing ollowing de fensible sspace pace defensible gguidelines uidelines b learing yyour our H ome byy cclearing Home Six IIgnition gnition Zone. Zone. (Refer (Refer to to Si ix Steps Stteps ttoo C reating Defensible Defensible Space Space o utlined on on P age 12.) 12.) Creating outlined Page R Reasons easons for for Firewise Firewise Communities Communities R Recognition ecognition are: are:

•• IIncreased ncreased p property roperty owner owner uunderstanding nderstanding of of fire fire issues issues and and iinvolvement nvolvement iin n tthe he ssolutions olutions •• IImproved mproved ccommunity ommunity ccooperation ooperation o n wildfire wildfire ssafety afety m atters on matters •• IImpartial mpartial aassessment ssessment o off ccommunity ommunity h hazards azards aand nd risks risks wildfire •• A ggeneral eneral reduction reduction iin n tthe he w ildffire h hazard azard level level in in the the community community •• A cclear lear iindication ndi d cation tto o iinsurers nsurers that that tthe he community community uunderstands nderstands aand nd iiss aacting cting to to reduce reduce hazards hazards and and risks risks •• C ommunity qqualification ualification ffor or ggrant rant Community ffunding unding Becoming A Firewise Community T The he Firewise Firewise Communities Communities Program Program iincludes ncludes aassisting ssisting residential residential ccommunities ommunities tto o become become recognized recognized F Firewise irewise C Communities/USA. ommunities/USA. T To o become b ecome recognized, recognized, communities communities must must uundertake ndertake ffive ive aactions: ctions: 11.. C Complete omplete a ccommunity ommunity aassessment, ssessment, aassisted ssisted b rofessionals from from your your byy p professionals llocal ocal ffire ire de ddepartment, partment, C CAL AL F FIRE, IRE, aand nd yyour our C County ounty F FSC, SC, aand nd ccreate reate aan n aassessment ssessment and and action action plan. plan. 22.. F Form orm a Firewise Firewise Board Board o orr C Committee. ommittee.

33..

H Hold old aan n aannual nnual Firewise Firewise D Day ay eevent vent tto o raise raise awareness awareness and and carry carry out out p ortions o he aaction ction p lan. portions off tthe plan. 44.. A Annually nnually invest invest a minimum minimum of of $2 $2 p er ccapita apita iin nm itigation p rojects. per mitigation projects. 55.. SSubmit ubmit aan n application application to to the the Firewise F irewise Communities Communities Program Program tthrough hrough CAL CAL FIRE FIRE

Firewise Comm munities/USA Communities/USA Activity in Plum mas County Plumas C Currently urrently tthree hree ccommunities ommunities iin nP Plumas lumas County C ounty aare re aapplying pplying for for Firewise Firewise Communities/USA Lake C ommunities/USA rrecognition; ecognition; L ake A Almanor lmanor West, West, Gold Gold Mountain, Mountain, and and The The G Graeagle raeagle Fire Fire Protection Protection District. District. For For aadditional dditional iinformation nformation o on nh how ow yyour our ccommunity ommunity can can become become one, one, contact contact yyour our C County ounty F Fire ire SSafe afe C Council, ouncil, C CAL AL F IRE or or Firewise Firewise Communities/USA. Communities/USA. FIRE G o tto ow ww.firewise.org , o orr Go www.firewise.org www.plumasfiresafe.org w ww.plumasfiresafe.org for for aadditional dditional iinformation. nformation.

providing firefighters a more secure area in which to work while protecting structures. During a wildfire, firefighters will often not attempt to protect structures with inadequate defensible space, for both safety reasons and the likelihood that their efforts will

Living With Fire • Page 13 is typically abundant. Grasses should not exceed four inches in height unless special circumstances exist.

Separation:

2x x Shrub spacing should be twice the height.

Sagebrush, other Shrubs, Pinyon and Juniper: On flat to gently sloping terrain, individual shrubs or small clumps of shrubs within the Defensible Space Zone should be separated from one another by at least twice the height of the average shrub. For homes located on steeper slopes, the separation distance should be greater. For example, if the typical shrub height is 2 feet, then there should be a separation between shrub branches of at least 4 feet. Remove shrubs or prune to reduce their height and/or diameter. In most instances, removing big sagebrush is the preferred approach. It is a very flammable plant, is easily removed, does not resprout, and

of at least toto gently sloping land. of at least10 10feet feeton onflat flat gently sloping land For onon steeper slopes, the separaFor homes homeslocated located steeper slopes, the tion distancedistance should be greater, see table. When separation should be greater, see table. When selecting selecting trees for removal, consider cutting untrees fordamaged, removal, cutting unhealthy healthy, orconsider weak trees.

damaged, or weak trees.

Recommended Min Horizontal Distance

10 feett

Pine and White Fir: On flat to gently sloping terrain, pine and white fir should be thinned to provide an average separation between canopies

Step Four

Step Fourbetween Create a separation

tree branches and lower Create a separation between growing plants: tree branches and lower growing If trees are present within the Defensible Spa plants: Zone, there should be a separation If trees are thevegetation Defensible Space between thepresent lower within growing and the lowest tree Zone, there should be branches. a separation between the Vegetation that can carry firelowest tree lower growing vegetation anda the burning in low growing plants toa fire burnbranches. Vegetation that can carry taller plants is called “ladder fuel.” The ing in low growing plants to taller plants is called recommended separation for ladder “ladder fuel.” The recommended separation for fuels is three times the height of the ladder fuels is three times the height of the lower lower vegetation layer. Prune the lower vegetation layer.shorten Prune the lower treeof branches, tree branches, the height shorten the height of shrubs, or remove lower shrubs, or remove lower plants. Do not, plants. Do not, however, remove more than however, remove more than one-third onethird the total branches. When there is no of theoftotal tree tree branches. When there is no understory vegetation understory vegetation present, present, remove lower tree remove lower tree branches a height branches to a height of at least to 2 feet above of at least 2 feeta above ground. During ground. During fire, this will help prevent a fire, this will help prevent burning burning needles and twigs that are lying on the needles and twigs that are lying on the ground from igniting the tree.

ground from igniting the tree.

Reducing Fuels in the Defensible Space & Community Zones Saves Homes. According to the Report, Structural survival on the 1990 Santa Barbara “Paint” fire: A retrospective study of urbanwildland interface fire hazard mitigation factors, 1996.  The Painted Cave fire, in Santa Barbara County, threatened 800 and destroyed 479 homes. Those homes with nonflammable roofs and a clearance of 30 feet or more, had an 86% survival rate, and increased to 99% if someone was present to put out spot fires.

Defensible space increases the safety of fire suppression personnel. In 2006, 24 firefighters were killed while fighting wildfires. This includes five firefighters of a U.S. Forest Service engine crew who were killed in Southern California while trying to protect structures. Defensible space around homes is proven to save lives by

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

be unsuccessful. Fuels reduction projects along roadsides also contribute to public safety by keeping evacuation routes open and allowing fire suppression equipment to enter into the community.

According to the USFS Report, An Assessment of Fuel Treatment Effects on Fire Behavior, Suppression Effectiveness, and Structure Ignition on the Angora Fire, 2007. Where fuel treatments were implemented before the fire:  Many firefighters reported increased ability to take “close-in” suppression actions because of the adjacent treatments which provided “black” safety zones after the fire had passed. Many houses were protected from fire or had spot fires extinguished in areas that would have been unsafe.  Many firefighters reported that the treated urban lots significantly increased suppression effectiveness because of the relatively low intensity surface fire that enabled direct attack of spot fires, preventing adjacent houses from burning.

Homeowners have the most control and often decided, consciously or unconsciously and long before the wildfire comes, whether or not their home will survive.


Page 12 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Six Steps to Creating an Effective Defensible Space The term “defensible space” refers to the area between a house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been managed to reduce the wildfire threat and allow firefighters to safely defend the house. In the event that firefighters are not available, defensible space also improves the likelihood of a home surviving without assistance.

Step Three Create a separation between trees and shrubs : Within the Defensible Space Zone, native trees and shrubs, suc11111s to create more space between them. This will reduce fire intensity, rate of fire spread and can create an acceptable working environment for firefighters.

Step One

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living With Fire • Page 9

The Role WildFires on the Plumas National Forest: Back Then….Today ….and in the Future By Moghaddas,Fire California Registered Professional Forester By Jason Jason Moghaddas, Ecologist, Mt Hough Ranger District

Back Then…..

Determine the two zon es of effective defensible space: California Law (PRC 4291) requires 100 feet of defensible space and is broken into two zones:

1. Le an, Cl e an and Gr ee n Ar e a: An area 30 feet immediately surrounding your home where all flammable vegetation and any dead or dying plants should be removed. You may keep single trees or other vegetation that are trimmed of all dead foliage and are well pruned and maintained.

2. Re du c ed F u el A r e a: An area from 30 feet to 100 feet from your home, or to your property line (whichever is less). You should remove all dead vegetation and decrease flammable brush and small trees so fire cannot spread through vegetation or act as a fire ladder introducing fire to tree crowns . Flat to gently sloping 0-20%

Moderately Very Steep Steep +40% 21-40%

2 times Shrubs the height of shrub

4 times the height of shrub

6 times the height of shrub

Trees

20 Feet

30 Feet

10 feet

d Off-roa ble i ava la diesel

Defensible space distance is measured from the base of the house, extending outward.

Step StepTwo Two Remove dead dea d vegetation: Remove vegetation: Within the recommended Defensible

Within the recommended Defensible Space Zone, remove: Space remove: • dead Zone, and dying trees or recently fallen trees native andtrees ornamental shrubs •• dead and dying or recently fallen trees dead native branches •• dead and ornamental shrubs driedbranches grass, weeds, and flowers •• dead • dead leaves, needles, and twigs that are still •attached dried grass, weeds, and flowers to plants, draped on live •plants, dead leaves, and twigs thator are on theneedles, roof or in rain gutters onstill the ground to plants, draped on live attached • Remove 3 inches or or less. plants, on surface the rooflitter or intorain gutters on the Surface litter consists of fallen leaves, needles, ground twigs, bark, cones, small branches etc. •• Remove to 3beinches or less. Logs andsurface stumpslitter should removed unless Surface litter consists of fallen leaves, neethey are embedded in the soil, remove nearby vegetation an embedded log branches is left. dles, twigs, if bark, cones, small etc. •• Logs Standing trees (snags) may be kept for and stumps should be removed unless wildlife providing they don’t exceed one per they are embedded in the soil, remove nearby acre or if it were to fall, would not reach vegetation if an embedded log left. buildings/structures or land onisroadways or •driveways. Standing trees (snags) may be kept for wildlife providing they don’t exceed one per acre or if it were to fall, would not reach buildings/structures or land on roadways or driveways.

Dense trees pose a high fire threat Horizontal Clearance for shrubs and trees is based on slope, vegetation size and type and other fuel characteristics.

If you donʼt have Defensible Space, please ask yourself. • Should firefighters be placed at increased risk to save your home? • If you havenʼt taken proven actions to help protect your home why should firefighters protect it? • Should taxpayers pay for fire agencies to protect your home? • Will your insurance cover your losses?

We Give Discounts to Truckers

As you rumble through town, fill up with diesel at our superfast pumps We’ll even wash your windows

Delo 1 Hydrauli 5-40 & c Oil ava ilable

MOHAWK TRADING COMPANY ~ Tires & Service ~

Many other credit cards also accepted.

Highway 89 • Greenville, CA 95974

284-7312

Bear Creek Guard Station above Meadow Valley in 1915 (left) and 2006- note the open stands of large trees and brush behind the station which have now filled in with young trees (Photos courtesy of Cristina Weinberg) It was an early July summer day — you could feel the dryness in the air — clouds had been forming overhead all day and in the afternoon, large anvil shaped thunderheads could be seen over the peaks near Antelope Valley. At about 4 pm, there were several lightning strikes — one strike hit a tall snag — you could see it smoldering near the top. Within a few hours, embers had dropped onto the ground around the snag, igniting the pine needles around it. Later on that evening, nightly downslope winds picked up, helping push the fire downhill through the night. By the morning, the fire had grown to about 20 acres and as the south facing slopes were exposed to the mid-morning sun, fire activity picked up. There was a slight breeze that day and it helped push the fire to the northeast- as the fire burned it ignited snags, down wood, and pine needles, leaving them behind to burn as it moved on. Occasionally groups of trees up to several acres torched out, killing most or all of the trees in that area. The fire burned towards a large ponderosa pine tree with a big fire scar at its base — that cat face caught fire, wounding the tree — the year was 1712... the fire burned for several more weeks until it was put out by fall rains. Researchers at the Fire Science Lab at UC Berkeley in collaboration with Plumas National Forest fire crews and scientists have collected and studied several of these fire-scarred trees in the Antelope Lake, Frenchmen Lake, East Quincy, and Portola Valley areas. Across this broad area, they have found a consistent pattern — fires have burned regularly on this forest for hundreds of years. Data from as far back as the late 1600ʼs shows that fires burned an average of every 8 to 22 years. This means that every hundred years, most lower elevation areas of the forest burned about 4 to 10 times. These fires were started by both lighting and local Maidu, who have lived here for centuries. Having fires burn so often in one place kept surface fuel loads down, thinned out young trees, burned up snags and dead wood, and helped maintain diverse forests of large, fire resistant trees intermixed with areas of young trees. Fire cleared the ground, leaving a clean seedbed for new trees to grow. While some areas may have burned under high severity, killing all trees, overall the forest had lower fuel loads and fire growth was limited by the existence of several other recently burned areas on the landscape.


Page 10 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Today….

Dense forest in watershed completely burned with high severity northeast of Antelope Lake. This area burned in the Antelope-Border Fire (Photo by Jerry Hurley).

It was a warm summer day —— July 5th, 2007, to be exact. Residents of Indian Valley were heading home from work. Overhead, there were large thunder clouds — that afternoon, a few quick lighting strikes were seen, and then very quickly — smoke. The fire had started in the Hungry Creek drainage east of Antelope Lake — within 1/2 hour, it had grown to several acres in size and showed no sign of slowing down. Throughout the night, fire fighters battled the blaze as it torched out trees and moved quickly across the landscape. Over the next few days, winds, high fuel loads, and dense forests helped push the fire from Hungry Creek across Dry Flat and towards Antelope Lake and the Janesville Grade. The fire torched out large areas of trees and made long runs through tree crowns up drainages and steep slopes. Behind the flaming front, patches of once dense forest several hundred to several thousand acres in size stood smoldering — needles were completely blown off trees, leaving blackened sticks in an eerie ghost forest. Some big trees died, including some that burned in those fires back in the 1600ʼs.

And in the future… Scientists agree that prolonged periods of drought will be more common in the future. As drought becomes more common, there is the potential for fire season to become longer and for fires to become more severe. While there is continued disagreement on how to manage this problem, we know that fire will continue shape the forests of the Sierra Nevada, though it may be in ways that society doesnʼt really want to happen. Restoring the forests through a use of treatments, including mechanical thinning, large scale prescribed fire, and wildland fire use are essential parts of helping mitigate the negative effects that prolonged drought will have on wildfires in the future ...

Fire is natural in the Sierra

A Mount Hough fire fighter lights a burn in a stand near Green Flat which has been mechanically thinned to reduce hazardous fire conditions (Photo by Jason Moghaddas).

The Sierra Nevada is a fire-dependent ecosystem. A Mediterranean climate of wet winters and hot, dry summers creates the perfect conditions for wildfire. Most of the plants, animals and forests evolved with fire for thousands of years, and have adapted and depend on fire to survive.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living With Fire • Page 11

Structure triage in a wildfire situation: What are the first things the firefighter looks at to determine if a home should be defended from an approaching wildfire, can we defend it, or will it probably survive without protection? Deciding which homes can be saved and which can’t is often a very rapid process. “Access, access, access…if I can’t see it, we can’t protect it,” said an experienced firefighter from Northern California. If safe ingress and egress is available into the structure, then – if time allows – a quick walk-around is conducted to determine if it is defensible. The walk-around takes several items into consideration including the building construction – roof type, siding, what will burn when fire embers land,

surrounding buildings, combustible debris, hazards; and, especially defensible space — is there any and will it provide clearance so the firefighters can work safely? The majority of homes are burned because they have wood roofs and lack defensible space. Most burn as a result of burning embers or firebrands which attack the house both before and after the fire front has passed. When considering a structure’s susceptibility to a wildfire, firefighters look at the roof to see if it is made of combustible materials, such as untreated wood shakes or if it is noncombustible, such as metal, composition, or tile. They look for unscreened vents, large windows, and firewood stacked next to the house, that can be easy entry paths for heat and

flying embers. Firefighters also consider the topography, water sources, current and expected fire behavior, available firefighting resources and, of course, the safety of their crews. Topographical features such as steep slopes or drainages and dangerous fuel types are part of the equation. Decks built out over slopes present an easy place for firebrands to become trapped and cause ignition. Firefighters look for decks and other extensions from the main structures that have been enclosed with fire-resistant materials. Structure triage will quickly lead to a decision to defend or abandon a structure. Every structure will fall into one of these three categories:

Needs little or no attention: Construction and defensible space sufficient enough to allow the structure to survive on its own or with a little assistance. Needs protection but is savable: Constructed and maintained fire-safe with defensible space and where the firefighters are reasonably safe. Undefendable: The fire will destroy the structure no matter what is done and may place firefighters at great risk. Now is the time to contact your local fire authority and request a “pre-fire inspection.” Better now then when the fire is knocking at your door this summer. Excerpts from Wildfire Magazine at wildfiremag.com

Defensible Space -- What's your excuse? “I don’t have the time or money”: If you live in a high fire hazard area, creating defensible space needs to be a high priority use of your spare time. Many defensible space activities require little or no money to implement. For bigger, more expensive community tasks, consider forming a Local Community Fire Safe Council for assistance in acquiring grant funds. “It’s wrong to cut trees”: In many areas, pines, cedars and firs occur in unnaturally dense stands. Thinning of these thick stands of trees not only reduces the fire threat, but often promotes forest health. “It won’t look good”: There is a misconception that defensible space has to be ugly and barren to be effective. Through proper planning, a homeowner can have both an attractive landscape and an effective defensible space.

“It’s not my responsibility”: The manner in which a house is built, characteristics of the adjacent vegetation, and maintenance often determine survivability during wildfire. The homeowner, not the firefighter, is usually responsible for these factors. “I don’t have an easy way to dispose of the unwanted vegetation”: Check to see if there is a free community cleanup day in your area, ask your fire department if they have a fuels reduction chipping program, or join several other neighbors and rent a chipper and trailer for a weekend. “It’s not going to happen to me”: If you live near areas of dense brush and trees (extensive surface and ladder fuels), it is only a matter of time before these areas burn.

“It’s against the law to remove vegetation”: If there are regulations that prohibit the removal of vegetation necessary to create defensible space, contact your local fire official and ask for help in resolving the conflict. “I’ve got insurance”: While insurance can rebuild a house, it cannot recreate a home. Photo albums, heirlooms, and other memorabilia are often irreplaceable. “I don’t know what to do”: For more information about creating defensible space, go to www.livingwithfire.info or contact your local firefighting agency or University of California Cooperative Extension office. Courtesy of Ed Smith, University of Nevada Cooperative Education


Page 10 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Today….

Dense forest in watershed completely burned with high severity northeast of Antelope Lake. This area burned in the Antelope-Border Fire (Photo by Jerry Hurley).

It was a warm summer day —— July 5th, 2007, to be exact. Residents of Indian Valley were heading home from work. Overhead, there were large thunder clouds — that afternoon, a few quick lighting strikes were seen, and then very quickly — smoke. The fire had started in the Hungry Creek drainage east of Antelope Lake — within 1/2 hour, it had grown to several acres in size and showed no sign of slowing down. Throughout the night, fire fighters battled the blaze as it torched out trees and moved quickly across the landscape. Over the next few days, winds, high fuel loads, and dense forests helped push the fire from Hungry Creek across Dry Flat and towards Antelope Lake and the Janesville Grade. The fire torched out large areas of trees and made long runs through tree crowns up drainages and steep slopes. Behind the flaming front, patches of once dense forest several hundred to several thousand acres in size stood smoldering — needles were completely blown off trees, leaving blackened sticks in an eerie ghost forest. Some big trees died, including some that burned in those fires back in the 1600ʼs.

And in the future… Scientists agree that prolonged periods of drought will be more common in the future. As drought becomes more common, there is the potential for fire season to become longer and for fires to become more severe. While there is continued disagreement on how to manage this problem, we know that fire will continue shape the forests of the Sierra Nevada, though it may be in ways that society doesnʼt really want to happen. Restoring the forests through a use of treatments, including mechanical thinning, large scale prescribed fire, and wildland fire use are essential parts of helping mitigate the negative effects that prolonged drought will have on wildfires in the future ...

Fire is natural in the Sierra

A Mount Hough fire fighter lights a burn in a stand near Green Flat which has been mechanically thinned to reduce hazardous fire conditions (Photo by Jason Moghaddas).

The Sierra Nevada is a fire-dependent ecosystem. A Mediterranean climate of wet winters and hot, dry summers creates the perfect conditions for wildfire. Most of the plants, animals and forests evolved with fire for thousands of years, and have adapted and depend on fire to survive.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living With Fire • Page 11

Structure triage in a wildfire situation: What are the first things the firefighter looks at to determine if a home should be defended from an approaching wildfire, can we defend it, or will it probably survive without protection? Deciding which homes can be saved and which can’t is often a very rapid process. “Access, access, access…if I can’t see it, we can’t protect it,” said an experienced firefighter from Northern California. If safe ingress and egress is available into the structure, then – if time allows – a quick walk-around is conducted to determine if it is defensible. The walk-around takes several items into consideration including the building construction – roof type, siding, what will burn when fire embers land,

surrounding buildings, combustible debris, hazards; and, especially defensible space — is there any and will it provide clearance so the firefighters can work safely? The majority of homes are burned because they have wood roofs and lack defensible space. Most burn as a result of burning embers or firebrands which attack the house both before and after the fire front has passed. When considering a structure’s susceptibility to a wildfire, firefighters look at the roof to see if it is made of combustible materials, such as untreated wood shakes or if it is noncombustible, such as metal, composition, or tile. They look for unscreened vents, large windows, and firewood stacked next to the house, that can be easy entry paths for heat and

flying embers. Firefighters also consider the topography, water sources, current and expected fire behavior, available firefighting resources and, of course, the safety of their crews. Topographical features such as steep slopes or drainages and dangerous fuel types are part of the equation. Decks built out over slopes present an easy place for firebrands to become trapped and cause ignition. Firefighters look for decks and other extensions from the main structures that have been enclosed with fire-resistant materials. Structure triage will quickly lead to a decision to defend or abandon a structure. Every structure will fall into one of these three categories:

Needs little or no attention: Construction and defensible space sufficient enough to allow the structure to survive on its own or with a little assistance. Needs protection but is savable: Constructed and maintained fire-safe with defensible space and where the firefighters are reasonably safe. Undefendable: The fire will destroy the structure no matter what is done and may place firefighters at great risk. Now is the time to contact your local fire authority and request a “pre-fire inspection.” Better now then when the fire is knocking at your door this summer. Excerpts from Wildfire Magazine at wildfiremag.com

Defensible Space -- What's your excuse? “I don’t have the time or money”: If you live in a high fire hazard area, creating defensible space needs to be a high priority use of your spare time. Many defensible space activities require little or no money to implement. For bigger, more expensive community tasks, consider forming a Local Community Fire Safe Council for assistance in acquiring grant funds. “It’s wrong to cut trees”: In many areas, pines, cedars and firs occur in unnaturally dense stands. Thinning of these thick stands of trees not only reduces the fire threat, but often promotes forest health. “It won’t look good”: There is a misconception that defensible space has to be ugly and barren to be effective. Through proper planning, a homeowner can have both an attractive landscape and an effective defensible space.

“It’s not my responsibility”: The manner in which a house is built, characteristics of the adjacent vegetation, and maintenance often determine survivability during wildfire. The homeowner, not the firefighter, is usually responsible for these factors. “I don’t have an easy way to dispose of the unwanted vegetation”: Check to see if there is a free community cleanup day in your area, ask your fire department if they have a fuels reduction chipping program, or join several other neighbors and rent a chipper and trailer for a weekend. “It’s not going to happen to me”: If you live near areas of dense brush and trees (extensive surface and ladder fuels), it is only a matter of time before these areas burn.

“It’s against the law to remove vegetation”: If there are regulations that prohibit the removal of vegetation necessary to create defensible space, contact your local fire official and ask for help in resolving the conflict. “I’ve got insurance”: While insurance can rebuild a house, it cannot recreate a home. Photo albums, heirlooms, and other memorabilia are often irreplaceable. “I don’t know what to do”: For more information about creating defensible space, go to www.livingwithfire.info or contact your local firefighting agency or University of California Cooperative Extension office. Courtesy of Ed Smith, University of Nevada Cooperative Education


Page 12 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Six Steps to Creating an Effective Defensible Space The term “defensible space” refers to the area between a house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been managed to reduce the wildfire threat and allow firefighters to safely defend the house. In the event that firefighters are not available, defensible space also improves the likelihood of a home surviving without assistance.

Step Three Create a separation between trees and shrubs : Within the Defensible Space Zone, native trees and shrubs, suc11111s to create more space between them. This will reduce fire intensity, rate of fire spread and can create an acceptable working environment for firefighters.

Step One

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living With Fire • Page 9

The Role WildFires on the Plumas National Forest: Back Then….Today ….and in the Future By Moghaddas,Fire California Registered Professional Forester By Jason Jason Moghaddas, Ecologist, Mt Hough Ranger District

Back Then…..

Determine the two zon es of effective defensible space: California Law (PRC 4291) requires 100 feet of defensible space and is broken into two zones:

1. Le an, Cl e an and Gr ee n Ar e a: An area 30 feet immediately surrounding your home where all flammable vegetation and any dead or dying plants should be removed. You may keep single trees or other vegetation that are trimmed of all dead foliage and are well pruned and maintained.

2. Re du c ed F u el A r e a: An area from 30 feet to 100 feet from your home, or to your property line (whichever is less). You should remove all dead vegetation and decrease flammable brush and small trees so fire cannot spread through vegetation or act as a fire ladder introducing fire to tree crowns . Flat to gently sloping 0-20%

Moderately Very Steep Steep +40% 21-40%

2 times Shrubs the height of shrub

4 times the height of shrub

6 times the height of shrub

Trees

20 Feet

30 Feet

10 feet

d Off-roa ble i ava la diesel

Defensible space distance is measured from the base of the house, extending outward.

Step StepTwo Two Remove dead dea d vegetation: Remove vegetation: Within the recommended Defensible

Within the recommended Defensible Space Zone, remove: Space remove: • dead Zone, and dying trees or recently fallen trees native andtrees ornamental shrubs •• dead and dying or recently fallen trees dead native branches •• dead and ornamental shrubs driedbranches grass, weeds, and flowers •• dead • dead leaves, needles, and twigs that are still •attached dried grass, weeds, and flowers to plants, draped on live •plants, dead leaves, and twigs thator are on theneedles, roof or in rain gutters onstill the ground to plants, draped on live attached • Remove 3 inches or or less. plants, on surface the rooflitter or intorain gutters on the Surface litter consists of fallen leaves, needles, ground twigs, bark, cones, small branches etc. •• Remove to 3beinches or less. Logs andsurface stumpslitter should removed unless Surface litter consists of fallen leaves, neethey are embedded in the soil, remove nearby vegetation an embedded log branches is left. dles, twigs, if bark, cones, small etc. •• Logs Standing trees (snags) may be kept for and stumps should be removed unless wildlife providing they don’t exceed one per they are embedded in the soil, remove nearby acre or if it were to fall, would not reach vegetation if an embedded log left. buildings/structures or land onisroadways or •driveways. Standing trees (snags) may be kept for wildlife providing they don’t exceed one per acre or if it were to fall, would not reach buildings/structures or land on roadways or driveways.

Dense trees pose a high fire threat Horizontal Clearance for shrubs and trees is based on slope, vegetation size and type and other fuel characteristics.

If you donʼt have Defensible Space, please ask yourself. • Should firefighters be placed at increased risk to save your home? • If you havenʼt taken proven actions to help protect your home why should firefighters protect it? • Should taxpayers pay for fire agencies to protect your home? • Will your insurance cover your losses?

We Give Discounts to Truckers

As you rumble through town, fill up with diesel at our superfast pumps We’ll even wash your windows

Delo 1 Hydrauli 5-40 & c Oil ava ilable

MOHAWK TRADING COMPANY ~ Tires & Service ~

Many other credit cards also accepted.

Highway 89 • Greenville, CA 95974

284-7312

Bear Creek Guard Station above Meadow Valley in 1915 (left) and 2006- note the open stands of large trees and brush behind the station which have now filled in with young trees (Photos courtesy of Cristina Weinberg) It was an early July summer day — you could feel the dryness in the air — clouds had been forming overhead all day and in the afternoon, large anvil shaped thunderheads could be seen over the peaks near Antelope Valley. At about 4 pm, there were several lightning strikes — one strike hit a tall snag — you could see it smoldering near the top. Within a few hours, embers had dropped onto the ground around the snag, igniting the pine needles around it. Later on that evening, nightly downslope winds picked up, helping push the fire downhill through the night. By the morning, the fire had grown to about 20 acres and as the south facing slopes were exposed to the mid-morning sun, fire activity picked up. There was a slight breeze that day and it helped push the fire to the northeast- as the fire burned it ignited snags, down wood, and pine needles, leaving them behind to burn as it moved on. Occasionally groups of trees up to several acres torched out, killing most or all of the trees in that area. The fire burned towards a large ponderosa pine tree with a big fire scar at its base — that cat face caught fire, wounding the tree — the year was 1712... the fire burned for several more weeks until it was put out by fall rains. Researchers at the Fire Science Lab at UC Berkeley in collaboration with Plumas National Forest fire crews and scientists have collected and studied several of these fire-scarred trees in the Antelope Lake, Frenchmen Lake, East Quincy, and Portola Valley areas. Across this broad area, they have found a consistent pattern — fires have burned regularly on this forest for hundreds of years. Data from as far back as the late 1600ʼs shows that fires burned an average of every 8 to 22 years. This means that every hundred years, most lower elevation areas of the forest burned about 4 to 10 times. These fires were started by both lighting and local Maidu, who have lived here for centuries. Having fires burn so often in one place kept surface fuel loads down, thinned out young trees, burned up snags and dead wood, and helped maintain diverse forests of large, fire resistant trees intermixed with areas of young trees. Fire cleared the ground, leaving a clean seedbed for new trees to grow. While some areas may have burned under high severity, killing all trees, overall the forest had lower fuel loads and fire growth was limited by the existence of several other recently burned areas on the landscape.


Page 8 • Living With Fire

Submitted by Dale Knutsen and Chuck Bowman

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Firewise F irewise C Communities/USA ommunities/USA

What is Firewise F C itizen involvement involvement is is the the cornerstone cornerstone Citizen off Firewise o Firewise Communities/USA Communities/USA Recognition R ecognition Program. Program. As As a resident resident whose w hose home home iiss llocated ocated iin n a rregion egion ssusceptible usceptible to to wildfires, wildffires, this this program program can can help h elp your your community community become become Firewise Fir re ewise. T he n ational F irewise C ommunities The national Firewise Communities p program rogram iiss a multi-agency multi-agency effort effort de designed signed tto o rreach each b beyond eyond tthe he ffire ire sservice ervice b nvolving homeowners, homeowners, community community byy iinvolving lleaders, eaders, planners, planners, developers, developers, and and others others iin n tthe he eeffort ffort tto op protect rotect p people, eople, p property, roperty, aand nd natural natural rresources esources ffrom rom tthe he iimpacts mpacts o off wildland wildland fire fire - before a fire starts starrts. Why Fire Firewise ewise T The he F Firewise irewise P Program rogram ddepends epends on on ccommunity ommunity iinvolvement. nvolvement. N eighbors Neighbors w working orkkiing together together to to m make ake ttheir heir iindividual ndividual ssurroundings urroundings and and their their ccommunity ommunity safer safer from from wildfires. wildffires. For For eexample xample ffollowing ollowing de fensible sspace pace defensible gguidelines uidelines b learing yyour our H ome byy cclearing Home Six IIgnition gnition Zone. Zone. (Refer (Refer to to Si ix Steps Stteps ttoo C reating Defensible Defensible Space Space o utlined on on P age 12.) 12.) Creating outlined Page R Reasons easons for for Firewise Firewise Communities Communities R Recognition ecognition are: are:

•• IIncreased ncreased p property roperty owner owner uunderstanding nderstanding of of fire fire issues issues and and iinvolvement nvolvement iin n tthe he ssolutions olutions •• IImproved mproved ccommunity ommunity ccooperation ooperation o n wildfire wildfire ssafety afety m atters on matters •• IImpartial mpartial aassessment ssessment o off ccommunity ommunity h hazards azards aand nd risks risks wildfire •• A ggeneral eneral reduction reduction iin n tthe he w ildffire h hazard azard level level in in the the community community •• A cclear lear iindication ndi d cation tto o iinsurers nsurers that that tthe he community community uunderstands nderstands aand nd iiss aacting cting to to reduce reduce hazards hazards and and risks risks •• C ommunity qqualification ualification ffor or ggrant rant Community ffunding unding Becoming A Firewise Community T The he Firewise Firewise Communities Communities Program Program iincludes ncludes aassisting ssisting residential residential ccommunities ommunities tto o become become recognized recognized F Firewise irewise C Communities/USA. ommunities/USA. T To o become b ecome recognized, recognized, communities communities must must uundertake ndertake ffive ive aactions: ctions: 11.. C Complete omplete a ccommunity ommunity aassessment, ssessment, aassisted ssisted b rofessionals from from your your byy p professionals llocal ocal ffire ire de ddepartment, partment, C CAL AL F FIRE, IRE, aand nd yyour our C County ounty F FSC, SC, aand nd ccreate reate aan n aassessment ssessment and and action action plan. plan. 22.. F Form orm a Firewise Firewise Board Board o orr C Committee. ommittee.

33..

H Hold old aan n aannual nnual Firewise Firewise D Day ay eevent vent tto o raise raise awareness awareness and and carry carry out out p ortions o he aaction ction p lan. portions off tthe plan. 44.. A Annually nnually invest invest a minimum minimum of of $2 $2 p er ccapita apita iin nm itigation p rojects. per mitigation projects. 55.. SSubmit ubmit aan n application application to to the the Firewise F irewise Communities Communities Program Program tthrough hrough CAL CAL FIRE FIRE

Firewise Comm munities/USA Communities/USA Activity in Plum mas County Plumas C Currently urrently tthree hree ccommunities ommunities iin nP Plumas lumas County C ounty aare re aapplying pplying for for Firewise Firewise Communities/USA Lake C ommunities/USA rrecognition; ecognition; L ake A Almanor lmanor West, West, Gold Gold Mountain, Mountain, and and The The G Graeagle raeagle Fire Fire Protection Protection District. District. For For aadditional dditional iinformation nformation o on nh how ow yyour our ccommunity ommunity can can become become one, one, contact contact yyour our C County ounty F Fire ire SSafe afe C Council, ouncil, C CAL AL F IRE or or Firewise Firewise Communities/USA. Communities/USA. FIRE G o tto ow ww.firewise.org , o orr Go www.firewise.org www.plumasfiresafe.org w ww.plumasfiresafe.org for for aadditional dditional iinformation. nformation.

providing firefighters a more secure area in which to work while protecting structures. During a wildfire, firefighters will often not attempt to protect structures with inadequate defensible space, for both safety reasons and the likelihood that their efforts will

Living With Fire • Page 13 is typically abundant. Grasses should not exceed four inches in height unless special circumstances exist.

Separation:

2x x Shrub spacing should be twice the height.

Sagebrush, other Shrubs, Pinyon and Juniper: On flat to gently sloping terrain, individual shrubs or small clumps of shrubs within the Defensible Space Zone should be separated from one another by at least twice the height of the average shrub. For homes located on steeper slopes, the separation distance should be greater. For example, if the typical shrub height is 2 feet, then there should be a separation between shrub branches of at least 4 feet. Remove shrubs or prune to reduce their height and/or diameter. In most instances, removing big sagebrush is the preferred approach. It is a very flammable plant, is easily removed, does not resprout, and

of at least toto gently sloping land. of at least10 10feet feeton onflat flat gently sloping land For onon steeper slopes, the separaFor homes homeslocated located steeper slopes, the tion distancedistance should be greater, see table. When separation should be greater, see table. When selecting selecting trees for removal, consider cutting untrees fordamaged, removal, cutting unhealthy healthy, orconsider weak trees.

damaged, or weak trees.

Recommended Min Horizontal Distance

10 feett

Pine and White Fir: On flat to gently sloping terrain, pine and white fir should be thinned to provide an average separation between canopies

Step Four

Step Fourbetween Create a separation

tree branches and lower Create a separation between growing plants: tree branches and lower growing If trees are present within the Defensible Spa plants: Zone, there should be a separation If trees are thevegetation Defensible Space between thepresent lower within growing and the lowest tree Zone, there should be branches. a separation between the Vegetation that can carry firelowest tree lower growing vegetation anda the burning in low growing plants toa fire burnbranches. Vegetation that can carry taller plants is called “ladder fuel.” The ing in low growing plants to taller plants is called recommended separation for ladder “ladder fuel.” The recommended separation for fuels is three times the height of the ladder fuels is three times the height of the lower lower vegetation layer. Prune the lower vegetation layer.shorten Prune the lower treeof branches, tree branches, the height shorten the height of shrubs, or remove lower shrubs, or remove lower plants. Do not, plants. Do not, however, remove more than however, remove more than one-third onethird the total branches. When there is no of theoftotal tree tree branches. When there is no understory vegetation understory vegetation present, present, remove lower tree remove lower tree branches a height branches to a height of at least to 2 feet above of at least 2 feeta above ground. During ground. During fire, this will help prevent a fire, this will help prevent burning burning needles and twigs that are lying on the needles and twigs that are lying on the ground from igniting the tree.

ground from igniting the tree.

Reducing Fuels in the Defensible Space & Community Zones Saves Homes. According to the Report, Structural survival on the 1990 Santa Barbara “Paint” fire: A retrospective study of urbanwildland interface fire hazard mitigation factors, 1996.  The Painted Cave fire, in Santa Barbara County, threatened 800 and destroyed 479 homes. Those homes with nonflammable roofs and a clearance of 30 feet or more, had an 86% survival rate, and increased to 99% if someone was present to put out spot fires.

Defensible space increases the safety of fire suppression personnel. In 2006, 24 firefighters were killed while fighting wildfires. This includes five firefighters of a U.S. Forest Service engine crew who were killed in Southern California while trying to protect structures. Defensible space around homes is proven to save lives by

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

be unsuccessful. Fuels reduction projects along roadsides also contribute to public safety by keeping evacuation routes open and allowing fire suppression equipment to enter into the community.

According to the USFS Report, An Assessment of Fuel Treatment Effects on Fire Behavior, Suppression Effectiveness, and Structure Ignition on the Angora Fire, 2007. Where fuel treatments were implemented before the fire:  Many firefighters reported increased ability to take “close-in” suppression actions because of the adjacent treatments which provided “black” safety zones after the fire had passed. Many houses were protected from fire or had spot fires extinguished in areas that would have been unsafe.  Many firefighters reported that the treated urban lots significantly increased suppression effectiveness because of the relatively low intensity surface fire that enabled direct attack of spot fires, preventing adjacent houses from burning.

Homeowners have the most control and often decided, consciously or unconsciously and long before the wildfire comes, whether or not their home will survive.


Page 14 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living With Fire • Page 7

Community Zone Tree Pruning recommendations Tree based onPruning height of fuelrecommendations below based on height of fuel below

This zone is beyond the “Defensible Space Zone”. Reducing fuel loading in this zone will minimize fire damage on areas which include vacant lots, common areas, green belts, and undeveloped lands surrounding communities. Fuel treatment in this zone will not only protect more homes, but the beauty, trees and wildlife which surround your homes Remove flammable vegetation and dispose of properly. Manage vegetation to prevent “ladder fuel’ occurrence.

3x

x Defensible space within a continuous tree canopy:

If keeping a larger stand of trees with continuous tree canopy: • prune lower branches of trees to a height of six to 15 feet from the top of the vegetation occurring below (or lower 1/3 of branches for small trees). Properties with greater fire potential (steep slopes) will require pruning heights in the upper end of this range. • remove all ground fuels greater than four inches in height. Single specimens of trees or other vegetation may be kept if they are wellspace, well-pruned and create and overall condition that avoids the spread of fire to other vegetation or to structures.

Step Five Step Five

Create a Lean, Clean, and Green Create a Lean, Clean, Green Area extending at leastand 30 feet from the house: Area extending at least 30 feet There are two goals for the Lean, Clean, from theArea. house: and Green The first goal is to eliminate There two goals Lean, Clean, easilyare ignitable fuels,for orthe “kindling,” near the house. This will The help first prevent from and Green Area. goalembers is to eliminate starting a easily ignitable fuels, or “kindling,” near the fire in your The second is to keep house. This yard. will help preventgoal embers from fire intensity low if it does ignite near the starting a house. By proper management of the fuels fire inthe your yard. Thewould second goal is toto keep near house, a fire not be able fire intensity lowheat if it does ignite near the generate enough to ignite home. house. Bythe proper management of the fuels For most homeowners, the Lean, Clean, near the house, a fire would not be ableand to Green Area is also the residential landscape. generate enough heat This area often has irrigation, is planted with toornamental ignite the vegetation, home. and is regularly For most homeowners, the Lean, Clean, and maintained. Green Area is also the residential landscape. This area often has irrigation, is planted with ornamental vegetation, and is regularly maintained.

Living With Fire A Special Supplement created by the staff of

Feather Publishing Co., Inc., and the Plumas County Fire Safe Council Jerry Hurley, Steve Fowler, Ron Heinbockel, Steven Ross, Heather Munn, Jason Moghddas, Pete Duncan, Cindy Noble, Mike Freschi, Dale Knutsen, Chuck Bowman Fire Safe Council contributors Plumas County Fire Safe Council: www.plumasfiresafe.com Sierra County Fire Safe and Watershed Council: www.scfswc.com

Michael C. Taborski, Publisher Sherri McConnell, Advertising Manager Tom Forney, Production Manager Feather Publishing: P.O. Box B, 287 Lawrence St., Quincy, CA 95971 (530) 283-0800 • FAX (530) 283-3952 email: mail@plumasnews.com

Step Six Step Six

Maintain the Defensible Space Zone: Maintain the Defensible Space Maintaining a defensible space is an Zone: ongoing activity. Plants grow back and

Maintaining a defensible space isroutinely an ongoing flammable vegetation needs to be activity . Plants grow back and flammable vegeremoved and disposed of properly. Before each fire season, your removed property using tation needs reevaluate to be routinely and disthe previous five.steps and implement the posed of properly Before each fire season, necessary defensible space recommendations. reevaluate your property using the previous five steps and implement the necessary defensiLean, Clean, and Green Area ble space recommendations.

Managing Fuel Requires:  Reducing the volume  Creating Horizontal Separation  Creating Vertical Separation

Forests and Communities can survive the intrusion of a wildfire.  Forests, like homes, can and do survive the intrusion of a wildfire.  Wildfires don’t have to be catastrophic stand replacing events.  Critical to managing fire behavior and its effects, is managing the fuels

Tips

• Remove most or all flammable wildland

Lean, Green Area Tips plants, Clean, includingand sagebrush, bitterbrush, rabbitbrush, and manzanita. • Remove mostcheatgrass, or all flammable wildlandIf you wish to retain a few of these as specimen plants, including sagebrush, bitterbrush, rabplants, make sure they aremanzanita. free of deadIf wood bitbrush, cheatgrass, and you and leaves, pruned to reduce the amount of wish to retain a few of these as specimen fuel, and separated from adjacent brush fields. plants, sure they are free dead wood • Selectmake less flammable plants forofthe home and leaves, pruned to reduce the amount of landscape. Some rules of thumb in selecting landscape plants forfrom the Lean, Clean, and fields. fuel, and separated adjacent brush Green Area are... • Select less flammable plants for the home • Shorter plants, less than 2 feet tall, are better landscape. Some rules of thumb in selecting choices than taller plants. landscape plants for the Lean, Clean, and • Green, herbaceous plants, such Green Area as grass andare... non-woody flowers, are better • Shorter plants, less and thantrees. 2 feet tall, are better choices than shrubs choices than taller plants. • Green, herbaceous plants, such as grass and non-woody flowers, are better choices than shrubs and trees. • Deciduous shrubs and trees are better choices than evergreen types. Avoid planting juniper, mugo pine and arborvitae. • Emphasize the use of hard surfaces and mulches. Hard surfaces include materials such as concrete, asphalt, and brick. Mulches include rock and wood types. Wood mulches should not be used within 3 feet of the house. • Clear all flammable vegetation from within 10 feet of the propane tank. • Remove tree limbs that are within 10 feet of the chimney, touching the house or deck, within 6 feet of the roof, or encroaching on power lines. • Create a noncombustible area at least 3 feet wide around the base of the house. Emphasize the use of irrigated herbaceous plants, such as lawn, ground covers, and flowers. Also use rock mulches and hard surfaces.

Lean, Clean & Green Zone

Fuel Treatment in the Community Zone should replicate that in the “Reduced Fuel Zone” (30-70’) of Defensible Space.

Reduced Fuel Zone

PC FSC has helped 17 communities seek funds to treat 2,500 acres in and around their community

If we are going to affect fire on a landscape level, we need to reduce fuels on a landscape level. Following the 2003 Southern California Wildfires, where 742,000 acres were burned, 3,361 structures destroyed and 26 lives were lost, a Governorʼs Blue Ribbon Commission recommended that the State increase the requirement for Defensible Space from 30 to 100 feet.


Page 6 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 DOES DEFENSIBLE SPACE REQUIRE A LOT OF BARE GROUND IN MY LANDSCAPE? No. Unfortunately, many people have this misconception. While bare ground is certainly effective in reducing the wildfire threat, it is unnecessary and unacceptable due to appearance, soil erosion, and other reasons. Many homes have attractive, well-vegetated landscapes that also serve as effective defensible space.

Built Zone This zone focuses on the areas most vulnerable to either direct flame contact or embers. Most homes are ignited from blowing embers.

Chimneys: Screened with ½ inch wire mesh or approved spark arrestor.

Eaves: Heat traps for hot air and gases. “Box in” to allow heat to escape.

Roof: Class A/fireresistant. Keep free of needles, leaves and branches.

Foundation & Attic Vents: Unscreened vents allow embers into the structure.

Firewood: Not stored next to the house. Keep at least 30’ from house.

Siding: In fire-prone areas use noncombustible siding, such as stucco, brick or cement board.

Windows: Install windows that are double-pane with at least one pane of tempered glass.

Gutters: Keep free of needles, leaves, and debris.

In 2004, PC FSC was recognized by the US Forest Service Chief with the Rural Community Assistance National Leadership Award for, “Outstanding accomplishments through their exceptional leadership, vision, and perseverance in working collaboratively to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in Plumas County.”

Decks: Enclose underside with ¼” wire mesh or nonflammable material. Keep free of combustible materials.

Embers created from torching trees and burning structures cause most homes to ignite. Most houses are burned by embers: • landing on shake roofs BE • igniting uncleared vegetation next to the house EMBER • igniting firewood next to the house AWARE! • igniting vegetation under decks • blowing into unscreened attic/crawl space vents • igniting combustible materials on decks

Professional Forestry Consulting Danielle Banchio, RPF #2808

(530) 284-1800 NORTH

VALLEY

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Living With Fire • Page 15

Timber Harvest Planning • Forest Management Timber Appraisal & Inventory • GIS/GPS Services

WHAT IS DEFENSIBLE SPACE? Defensible space is the area between a house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been modified to reduce the wildfire threat and to provide an opportunity for firefighters to effectively defend the house. Sometimes, a defensible space is simply a homeowner’s properly maintained backyard. WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VEGETATION AND WILDFIRE THREAT? Many people do not view the plants growing on their property as a threat. But in terms of wildfire, the vegetation adjacent to their homes can have considerable influence upon the survivability of their houses. All vegetation, including plants native to the area and ornamental plants, is potential wildfire fuel. If vegetation is properly modified and maintained, a wildfire can be slowed, the length of flames shortened, and the amount of heat reduced, all of which assist fighters in defending the home against an oncoming wildfire. THE FIRE DEPARTMENT IS SUPPOSED TO PROTECT MY HOUSE, SO WHY BOTHER WITH DEFENSIBLE SPACE? Some individuals incorrectly assume that a fire engine will be parked in their driveway and firefighters will be actively defending their homes if a wildfire approaches. During a major wildfire, it is unlikely there will be enough firefighting resources available to defend every home. In these instances, firefighters will likely select homes they can most safely and effectively protect. Even with adequate resources, some wildfires may be so intense that there may be little firefighters can do to prevent a house from burning. The key is to reduce fire intensity as wildfire nears the house. This can be accomplished by reducing the amount of flammable vegetation surrounding a home. Consequently, the most important person in protecting a house from wildfire is not a firefighter, but the property owner. And it is the action taken by the owner before the wildfire occurs (such as proper landscaping) that is most critical.

Donʼt let wildfire ʻbrandʼ your house a loser; do what you can now to protect your investment from the destructive effects of wildfire and its deadly firebrands.

DOES CREATING A DEFENSIBLE SPACE REQUIRE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS OR EQUIPMENT? No. For the most part, creating a defensible space employs routine gardening and landscape maintenance practices, such as pruning, mowing, weeding, plant removal, appropriate plant selection, and irrigation. Equipment needed includes common tools such as a chain saw, a pruning saw, pruning shears, loppers, a weed-eater, a shovel, and a rake. A chipper, compost bin, or large rented trash dumpster may be useful in disposing of unwanted plant material. HOW BIG IS AN EFFECTIVE DEFENSIBLE SPACE? Defensible space size is not the same for every home, but varies by slope and type of wildland vegetation growing near the house. See “Step One” on page 12. DOES DEFENSIBLE SPACE MAKE A DIFFERENCE? Yes. Investigations of homes threatened by wildfire indicate that those with an effective defensible space are much more likely to survive a wildfire. Furthermore, homes with both an effective defensible space and a nonflammable roof (composition shingles, tile, metal, etc.) are many times more likely to survive a wildfire. Defensible space also allows firefighters to effectively and safely defend your home. DOES HAVING A DEFENSIBLE SPACE GUARANTEE MY HOUSE WILL SURVIVE A WILDFIRE? No. Under extreme conditions, almost any house can burn. However, having a defensible space will significantly improve the odds of your home surviving a wildfire.

Photo Courtesy USFS

Trees and Power Lines Planting Tip — Plant the "Right Tree in the Right Place." Planting trees under power lines can pose electrical shock hazards and fire safety risks. To stay safe, keep the lights on and reduce the risk of fire, plant: • Medium and large trees 50 feet to the side of transmission lines, poles and towers. • Medium and large trees 30 feet to the side of distribution lines and poles. For more information visit pge.com/trees or for California tree selections visit www.selectree.calpoly.edu. To request a "Guide to Planting Small Trees Near Distribution Lines” call 1-800-743-5000, or email RightTreeRightPlace@pge.com. Specify: Northern CA, Central CA or Bay Area/Inland.

Power Line Tree Planting Guidelines

WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE LIVING IN A HIGH FIRE HAZARD AREA CREATE A DEFENSIBLE SPACE? The specific reasons for not creating a defensible space are varied. Presented on page 11 are responses to common excuses for not creating defensible space.

Transmission Line

50 ft. 30 ft. Distribution Line

Nuisance or Problem? The amount of heat which can cause a 2nd degree burn in 5 seconds would need to last for 30 minutes to ignite wood siding on a house. However, the tiny match-like embers which land on skin and cause a minor annoyance are responsible for most homes burning.

Large and Medium Trees

Small Trees

No Trees

Plant the "Right Tree in the Right Place."


Page 16 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Want to Burn Your Yard Debris? Residents in Plumas County are urged to do their debris burning during winter or early spring, but be careful as we transition from spring to early summer. Escaped debris burns are the number one cause of human caused fires on the Plumas National Forest. Escaped debris burns are often the result of a pile left unattended or burning when windy. Debris burning can be a very effective means of reducing fire hazards around your home and land if handled properly and safely. However, remember that the person doing the burning is financially responsible for suppression costs and damages if the debris burn escapes. Also remember that burning out of hours could result in an emergency fire dispatch to your home, in which you may be cited and charged for the personnel and equipment time. Burning Permits are required beginning May 1st through June 30th. A burn ban is in effect from July 1st through October yearly regardless of the weather.

Defensible Space Zone This zone consists of two areas around the structure: 1. Lean, Clean, Green Areas for 0-30’ 2. Reduced Fuel Zone from 30-100’ See Six Steps to creating defensible space for more information

Escaped debris burns are the number one cause of human-caused fires on the Plumas National Forest.

Please follow these fire-safe guidelines while burning:  Green or wet vegetation should be dried 3-6 weeks before burning to reduce your smoke impact on the community. Fire Prevention specialists recommend covering your burn piles with plastic or similar material in the fall before the rain to allow for easy ignition of the piles during very wet weather.  Keep pile size at 4 feet in diameter or less. If burn piles are larger than 4’ x 4’ , a special permit is needed and the piles must be inspected by a District Fire Prevention Officer.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

 Make sure area within 10 feet of outer edge of pile is free and clear of any vegetation on the ground. Construct your control lines down to mineral soil.  An adult must be in attendance with a shovel until the fire is dead out.  A water supply is required at the burning site.  Don’t burn when windy.  Have in possession a valid burning permit.  Make sure your fire is out! Check the burn area before leaving it, even after you think it is dead out.

•Burn only on days approved by the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District. Call any of the following numbers to find out if it is a permissive burn day: Plumas: Portola: 832-4528 Quincy: 283-3602 Greenville: 284-6520 Chester: 258-2588

Sierra: Eastern Sierra County: 994-3561 Western Sierra County: 289-3662

Reduced Fuel Area: The Wildland Fuel Reduction Area usually lies beyond the residential landscape area Within this area:  Remove all dead vegetation (dead shrubs, dried grass, fallen branches, pine needles, etc.).  Thin out thick shrubs and trees to create a separation between them.  Remove “ladder fuels” by removing low tree branches, removing or pruning shrubs under trees.

Living With Fire • Page 5

Lean, Clean, and Green Area: For a distance of at least 30 feet from the home.  “Lean” -only a small amount of flammable vegetation present,  “Clean” - no accumulation of dead vegetation or flammable debris within the area  . “Green” plants located within this area are kept healthy, green, and irrigated during fire season. For most homeowners, this area often has irrigation, contains ornamental plants, and is routinely maintained.

Noncombustible Area: Create a “Noncombustible Area” at least 3 feet wide around the base of your home. This area needs to have a very low potential for ignition from flying embers. Use irrigated plants, rock mulches, or hard surfaces. Keep it free of woodpiles, dead plants, dried leaves, needles, flammable shrubs and debris.

Note: For air quality reasons, burning is banned completely at any time throughout the year in the downtown Quincy and East Quincy portions of the American Valley. To obtain a burning permit or have your questions answered regarding residential burning, please contact or visit a local Forest Service or Cal Fire Office: Mt. Hough Ranger District Office- 39696 State Highway 70, Quincy, Ca. -283-0555 Greenville Work Center- 122 Hot Springs Road Greenville, Ca. - 284-7126 Beckwourth Ranger District Office- Mohawk Road, Blairsden, Ca. - 836-2575 Almanor Ranger District Office- Highway 36, Chester, Ca. – 258-2141 Sierraville Ranger District Office- 317 S. Lincoln St., Sierraville, Ca. – 994-3401 Cal Fire – Westwood Fire Station – 3rd and Greenwood, Westwood, Ca. – 256-3203 Cal Fire – Truckee Fire Station – 10277 Truckee-Tahoe Airport Rd., Ca. – 582-5730 Sierra Fire Protection Distict – 100 S. Garson Rd., Verdi, Nev. – (775) 345-0358 The Plumas National Forest issues burn permits under an agreement with Cal-Fire. Your Burn Permit will further explain the latest regulations and recommendations.

SPI believes in wise use of OUR forests. Fire safety is our concern; please make it yours also. Healthy, productive forests are safe forests.

FORESTS ARE AMERICA’S #1 RENEWABLE RESOURCE

SIERRA PACIFIC INDUSTRIES Quincy

“Taking pride in everything we do.”


Page 4 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Access Z one This zone provides suggestions that help emergency responders locate your home in a timely manner and to provide emergency equipment and personnel SAFE access to structures, while allowing residents to concurrently evacuate SAFELY.

Living With Fire • Page 17

Special Thanks & Acknowledgement

FIRE SAFETY Street Signs: Street signs should be posted at each intersection leading to your home. Sign characters should be at least 3 inches high, reflective, and non-combustible.

Living With Fire: A Guide for the Homeowner, was written by Ed Smith, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, with assistance from Sonya Sistare, Living With Fire program assistant. Graphic design provided by Lucy Walker, Office of Marketing and Communications, University of Nevada, Reno. Illustration services provided by Kirah Van Sickle and Animania, LLC. Funding for that project was provided by a National Fire Plan grant from the USDA Forest Service/Nevada Division of Forestry. For more information about Living With Fire, contact Ed Smith, (775)782-9960 or smithe@unce.unr.edu; or Sonya Sistare, (775)784-4848 or sistares@unce.unr.edu.

for Horse Owners Tips for minimizing the threat to you and your horse during a wildfire.

Turnouts: Homes located along long narrow dead end streets and driveways over 800 feet should have turnouts every 400 feet that will allow two-way traffic.

Address: The home address should be visible from the street, made of reflective, noncombustible material with characters at least 3 inches high

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Driveway Clearance: Remove vegetation from both sides of the driveway, extending at least 10 feet and at least a 15foot vertical clearance above driveway.

Copyright © 2005 3rd edition - July, 2005

For more information visit: www.plumasfiresafe.org/equin.htm or Contact: High Mountain Riders

Topper’s TREE SERVICE Hazard Removal • Fire Safe Clean-up • Fuel Reduction Dave Sims

Turnarounds: Homes located at the end of long driveways or dead end roads should have turnaround areas suitable for large fire equipment. Turnarounds can be a cul-de-sac with at least a 45-foot radius or a location suitable for a three-point turn.

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Page 18 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Protecting Your Community From Destruction by Wildfire So all the homes in your community are prepared for a wildfire. • What about the areas between the homes and around the community? • The Forest: Trees, Wildlife Habitat, View, Aesthetics, and Reasons you chose to live there?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living With Fire • Page 3

Wildfire will threaten your house in three ways…

Experience & Science shows that not only homes, but that forests can survive a wildfire. What is Needed? Reducing fuel loading in the community zone will minimize fire damage on areas which include vacant lots, common areas, green belts, and undeveloped lands surrounding communities. Fuel treatment in this zone will not only protect more homes, but the beauty, trees, and wildlife which surround homes. Key to reducing catastrophic stand replacing wildfire in the community zone is Hazardous Fuel Reduction (HFR). This requires creating horizontal and vertical separation of plants and trees, while removing excess fuel. Similar to the 30-100 foot reduced fuel zone (see pages 12-14). PC FSC has worked in 15 communities to reduce hazardous fuels, on 2,500 acres, in and around those communities since 2003. Does it work? “The Angora Fire demonstrated that some houses had burned due to a lack of defensible space and/or continuous fuelbeds, such as pine needles, that lay adjacent to burnable parts of the homes. Conversely, many homes were protected or had spot fires extinguished by firefighters who were able to take “close-in” suppression actions because defensible space and other fuels treatments provided safety zones in which they could safely work” The Emergency California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission Report, May 2008

Key Report Findings. Angora Fire preliminary fire effects assessment Ongoing study. Report Version 2: July 19, 2007 Hugh Safford, Regional Ecologist, Pacific SW Region Angora fuels treatments 1996-2005: • Fuels treatments significantly reduced tree canopy continuity and surface fuels in the area adjacent to the Tahoe Paradise subdivision, • Fuels treatments significantly decreased tree mortality (77% in untreated areas, versus about 21% in treated areas) • Fuels treatments significantly lowered flame lengths and reduced the effects of fire to the tree canopy (32 feet in the untreated area, compared to about 7.5 feet in treated area) • Fuels treatments in the Angora Creek area significantly changed fire behavior, reduced fire effects to the ecosystem, and acted to slow and ameliorate the intensity of the fire as it approached homes in the Tahoe Paradise subdivision View the entire report at: http://www.foresthealth.org/pdf/Safford_AngoraFireEffects_v2_7-19-07.pdf Fire Behavior and Effects Relating to Suppression, Fuel Treatments, and Protected Areas on the Antelope Complex, Wheeler Fire- August 2007 • Treated areas had significantly reduced fire behavior and tree and soil impacts compared to untreated areas. • Treated areas were utilized during suppression along several flanks of the fire for both direct attack with dozers and handcrews, as well as for indirect attack with burn operations. View the entire report at: http://www.qlg.org/pub/miscdoc/antelopefireanalysis.pdf Cone Fire Tests Fuel Reduction Treatment Effectiveness In 2002, a wildfire burned through a study area, in the Blacks Mountain Experimental Forest, where varying fuel treatment methods were employed. Results indicate that there was much less mortality in the treated stands than the untreated stands. For more information go to: www.fs.fed.us/psw/programs/ecology_of_western_forests/projects/cone_fire_new/

CONTACT BY FLAMES

This type of threat occurs when vegetation and other fuels burning near the house produce flames that come in contact with the home and ignite it. Often, it happens when fire burns through a uniform layer of vegetation right up to the house. Direct contact by flames is probably what most homeowners visualize when they think of a house burning during wildfire.

RADIATED HEAT

Radiated heat melted the vinyl siding on this house. Flames never came in contact with it. Radiated heat is produced by invisible electromagnetic waves that travel out in all directions from a flame. When a house receives enough radiated heat for sufficient time, it will ignite. Sometimes radiated heat can burst windows and allow burning embers to enter the house.

FLYING EMBERS

More houses burn due to flying embers than any other reason. If fire conditions are right, ember can be lofted high into the air and transported more than a mile. Burning embers can also be carried by wind and fire whirls. If these burning embers land in easily ignitable materials, a new fire can start.

“Itisisnot notwhere where your home is located necessarily determines the ignition It’s howthe ignitable the is as "It your home is located thatthat necessarily determines the ignition risk. It'srisk. how ignitable house is ashouse determined determined by the Home Ignition Zone” by the Home Ignition Zone" Jack Cohen, Cohen, USFS USFS Fire FireResearcher Researcher Jack

What can homeowners & communities do to reduce wildfire threat? The Living With Wildfire threat reduction recommendations are presented according to four zones…. D e fe ns ib l e Spa c e Z o ne

This zone pertains to the vegetation surrounding your home, both ornamental and landscape plants and native plants.

A c c ess Z o n e

This zone provides suggestions that help emergency responders locate your home in a timely manner.

C o mmu n i ty Z o n e

Forest Survival following the Stream Fire – Prior to the fire, surface, ladder, and canopy fuels were thinned and removed, creating a fire resilient stand which survived the fire. (Photo by Jerry Hurley)

Forest Death following the Stream Fire – Like too much of our forests, this is an example of post-fire effects on untreated stands following the catastrophic stand-replacing wildfire. (Photo by Jerry Hurley)

This zone is outside and between the Defensible Space Zones. Efforts are to minimize fire damage on undeveloped areas which include vacant lots, common areas, green belts, and undeveloped lands.

Bu i lt Z o n e

This zone provides recommendations for home construction.


Page 2 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living With Fire • Page 19

PC FSC Board Members

What is the Plumas County Fire Safe Council (PC FSC) PC FSC was organized in 1998, became a non-profit corporation in 2002, and has since worked very hard to provide community support for wildfire mitigation countywide.

. . . helping Plumas and Sierra County residents live more safely with the threat of wildfire

Brian West, Mike Callaghan Jay Skutt Andy Anderson Jim Hamblin

Frank Stewart Dale Meese Allan Setzer Mike De Laseaux Scott Abrams

PC FSC Mission Statement: “To reduce the loss of natural and manmade resources caused by wildfire through Firewise community programs and pre-fire activities.”

PC FSC PLANS PC FSC Has developed a number of plans to assist homeowner and communities better understand the risks, mitigation measures and if necessary preparations for evacuations. Community Wildfire Protection Plan PC FSC has a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) which was developed to outline the risks and hazards associated with a wildland fire threat to Plumas County communities and to identify potential mitigation measures. The Plumas County Communities Wildland Fire Mitigation Plan is intended to provide documentation of implementing actions designed to reduce wildfire risk to homes and communities through education and outreach programs, the development of partnerships, and implementation of preventative activities such as hazardous fuel reduction, defensible space, land use, or building codes. A CWPP is necessary for FSC’s to obtain funding assistance from the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, State of California, and other grantors.

Living in a High Wildfire Hazard Area The potential for loss of human life and property due to wildfire in Plumas and Sierra counties is growing. In response, local, state, federal, private, and nonprofit organizations have banded together to create Living With Fire, a wildfire threat reduction program for homeowners.

Important Information provided in the Plan includes:  Fire frequency and history  Wildfire Threats to communities & homes  Wildland fire behavior factors, influences, and elements affecting property and resource damage.  Maps of Fire History, communities at risk, land ownership, fire protection districts and others  Mitigation strategies are prioritized by zone, with the highest priority being the structure ignition zone and working outward. o Mitigation strategies areas of focus: A. Information, Education, and Planning B. Reducing Structure Ignitability C. Enhancing Suppression Capabilities and Public Safety D. Hazardous Fuel Reduction Mitigation strategies

The Living With Fire program is not about fire prevention. Its purpose is to teach people how to live more safely with the threat of wildfire. For many areas in our two counties, it is not a question of “if ” wildfire will occur, but “when.”

Home Survivability Why do some houses survive a wildfire, while others are destroyed? Research findings prove that house survival during a wildfire is not random, miraculous or “dumb luck.” Rather it is how the house is built, the characteristics of the surrounding vegetation, and routine maintenance that often determine which homes burn and survive.

Photo courtesy Jack Cohen, USFS

Pre-fire actions completed before a wildfire, by the resident, often determine the survivability of structures. The “winners” will be those people who implement and maintain pre-fire activities. The homeowner has the largest role in determining whether or not a structure burns in a wildfire.

HUMAN BEHAVIOR IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS FIRE BEHAVIOR IN SAVING YOUR HOME BEFORE THE FIRE BEFORE THE FIRE

DURING THE DURING THEFIRE FIRE

AFTER THE AFTER THEFIRE FIRE

http://www.plumasfiresafe.org/fire_plan.htm

Greenhorn 1990

Portola 1988

WILDLAND FIRE PREPARATION & EVACUATION PLAN PLUMAS COUNTY

Will you be ready for Wildland Fire? Have you done all you can to protect your home before wildfire strikes? Do you know what to do if fire is approaching? Do you know what to do when evacuating and where to go? Do you know what to do if wildfire strikes your community? IF NOT, THIS BROCHURE MAY BE OF HELP TO YOU.

http://www.plumasfiresafe.org/evac.htm Plumas County Fuels Assessment & Strategy The Fuels Assessment and Strategy was developed to provide citizens, communities, land managers, and decision makers, a better understanding of the fuel hazard across Plumas County, especially within the community wildland-urban interface. Projected fire behavior is displayed for the County with fuel treatment recommendations. It helps to develop a priority-based strategy for addressing the risk." http://www.plumasfiresafe.org/assessment.htm

is a natural part of our environment. Forest and rangelands were burning long before Sierra County was settled in the 1800ʼs. Whether you are a full time resident or vacation homeowner, you need to think about the very real possibility of a major wildfire threatening your community. This is where defensible space comes in, California State Law (PRC 4291) requires you to have defensible space. The best thing you can do is to make sure your home can stand alone. The homeowner is the most important person when it comes to preparing for a wildfire. You need to understand your local fire threat and learn what to do about it.

Prior to the fire, this homeowner changed the roof material from wood shakes to fire-resistant tiles and reduced the amount of flammable vegetation surrounding the home. These pre-fire activities helped this house survive the fire.

The Sierra County Fire Safe and Watershed Council is a non-profit corporation made up of concerned citizens who recognize the need to raise public awareness of wildfire related issues. Contact the Council to schedule a free Defensible Space Consultation at 530-249-0444.


Page 20 • Living With Fire

Wednesday, June 28, 2010

If Wildfire Approaches...

What should I wear and have with me?

How should I leave my home?

• Wear only cotton or wool clothes • Proper attire includes long pants, long-sleeved shirt or jacket, and boots • Carry gloves, a handkerchief to cover your face, water to drink, and goggles • Keep a flashlight and portable radio with you at all times • Tune in to a local radio station and listen for Instruction

• Close all interior doors • Leave a light on in each room • Remove lightweight, non fireresistant curtains and other combustible materials from around windows • Close fire-resistant drapes, shutters, and Venetian blinds • Turn off all pilot lights • Move overstuffed furniture, such as couches and easy chairs, to the center of the room

What about family members and pets?

What about the outside of my home?

• If possible, evacuate all family members not essential to preparing the house for wildfire • Make sure to designate a safe meeting place and contact person • Relay your plans to the contact person • Evacuate pets • Contact the local Humane Society for pet assistance if needed

• Place combustible patio furniture in the house or garage • Shut off propane at the tank or at the meter • Close all exterior vents if possible • Prop a ladder against the house to provide firefighters with access to the roof • Make sure that all garden hoses are connected to faucets and attach nozzles • Remove stacks of firewood from porches, decks, and next to the house • Close all exterior doors and windows • Turn on outside lights • If available and if there’s time, cover windows, attic openings, and vents with plywood that is at least one-half inch thick • Wet down wood-shake or shingle roofs before leaving • Fill trash cans and buckets with water and place where firefighters can find then • If you have an emergency water source (pool, pond, etc.) and/or portable pump, clearly mark its availability so it can be seen from the street.

How should I prepare my car? • Place vehicles in the garage, pointing out with keys in the ignition • Roll up the windows • Close the garage door, but leave it unlocked • If applicable, disconnect the electric garage door opener so that the door can be opened manually

What should I take? • Important documents (bank, IRS, trust, investment insurance policy, birth certificates, medical records) • Credit and ATM cards • Medications • Prescription glasses • Driver’s license • Passport • Computer backup files • Inventory of home contents ( consider videotaping) • Photograph the exterior of the house and landscape • Address book • Cell phone and charger • Personal toiletries • Change of clothing • Family photo albums and videos • Family heirlooms • Place essential items in the car

Funding for this project provided by: US Forest Service – Plumas & Lassen National Forests Sierra Nevada Conservancy Plumas County Board of Supervisors Sierra County Board of Supervisors Graeagle Fire Protection District

Photos courtesy of Plumas National Forest

Humans and animals were evacuated on the Rolland Fire off Hwy. 395 on the Plumas National Forest.

For more information visit www.plumasfiresafe.org or www.scfswc.com

Living with Fire 2010  

Guide to Firesafe living

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