Plumas County is no stranger to wildfires — our beautiful Northern Sierra has been shaped by fires for centuries. Fire is part of our surrounding landscape and learning to live with wildfires is part of life. As we all watch our favorite newscast on television, read our favorite source of news in our local newspapers and online, we can’t escape the fact that wildfires play a big part of breaking stories.
We have already seen wildfires start up in the southwest and Colorado and the active fire map seems to be a preview of coming attractions … wildfires marching their way west into our area. Proof of our dry winter was evident while hiking in Lakes Basin recently. The usual areas that hold snow in the high country have been dry for weeks and the backcountry lakes are significantly lower. All this puts a spotlight on our potential for wildfires.
We all have all been busy this past month raking up the winter’s leftovers around our yards, planting our gardens, and enjoying our green meadows and wildflowers as we travel through our county. Now it’s time to look at our homes and properties from a different perspective.
The seasonal outlook by the Northern California Wildfire Behavior Predictive Services Group in Redding reports that the five-month dry period between January and May was a once in a 50 to 100 year event. By early July it is anticipated that fuels will be at mid-August levels across most regions. Climate guidance suggests near to warmer than normal temperatures and near to below normal precipitation. Long-range models indicate above normal large fire potentialfor July through September in our area.
It is indeed shaping up to be a summer with a high potential of large fires should one get started. Last summer’s 75,431-acre Chips Fire should be etched in all our memories. Imagine looking up over the ridge and seeing that smoke column. It’s a hot and windy day and you think, Have I done enough? By that time it may be too late to do all you wished you had done to prepare your home to survive a wildfire.
Be aware and prepare now Traveling embers from wildfires miles away can ignite roofs, lawn chairs, decks, fences, mulch, pine needles and other common items around your house and yard. Cleaning your property of debris, limbing your trees, creating space between your plants and maintaining your landscaping reduces the likelihood of ignition.
Consider everyday preparedness actions to make your home and property safer from wildfire.
Create a “fuel-free” area within 5 feet of your home’s foundation, move firewood stacks and propane tanks away from your house or shed, and dispose of lawn cuttings.
It is time for us all to talk to our neighbors about wildfires. Share advice and watch for those success stories of homes that were saved from wildfires. You want your home and community to be a winner in the firefight. We are all in it together and working together towards more Firewise Communities in our county can make a big difference.
For more information on Firewise Communities, how to prepare your home and property for wildfires and things to consider for your own personal evacuation plan go to plumasfiresafe.org or firewise.org.