[the_ad_placement id=”banner-right-placement”]

[the_ad_placement id=”banner-left-placement”]

Dry, windy conditions demand burn pile caution and attention

Insurance companies take interest in Firewise certifications

More than 35 members, partners and interested citizens packed the Feb. 13 Plumas County Fire Safe Council meeting at the planning and building services department in downtown Quincy.

One clear message on the full agenda was this:

Always check right before you light a burn pile, by calling the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, especially during dry, windy weather.

Changing conditions mean burn day permissions are updating daily, sometimes even hourly and are occasionally being pulled on the same day, regardless of previous approvals, as dry and windy weather persists throughout Plumas County.

Attendees at the council meeting reported that many property owners are clearing their defensible space and reducing fuels on forested properties, which are necessary and important, but there is currently a critical need to check back, right before you light, with the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District. So visit them online or call for instructions on any day you are considering lighting a burn pile.

Fuel reduction challenges, make sure piles are really out

Other representatives at the council meeting talked about current fuel reduction work taking place around the county to create and maintain healthy forestlands.

The U.S. Forest Service members said the (unseasonably) dry conditions, coupled with high winds, are making them “chase elevation and snowline” to find places where it is safe enough to put crews and equipment to work.

The crews have to keep moving to higher elevations, “places we would not normally have any access to at this time of year,” in order to work. The lower elevations and usual places at which they would set up to work are too dry now, they said.

Other attendees urged caution with private and other burn piles, saying don’t assume a pile is completely out. Be careful, really check and make sure the pile is out because some piles are being found still smoldering the next day, creating fire hazards.

Fire insurance information

Fire Safe Council Member Richard Stockton, licensed agent and owner of Quincy’s State Farm Insurance office, talked about efforts of the council and California’s approved Firewise USA Communities that will help the state’s fire insurance problems.

He gave a brief report at the meeting to explain, “Non-renewals are not slowing down; they are still coming in every day and not just affecting homeowners, but businesses, too.”

However, there is somewhat of a silver lining. Stockton mentioned insurers are taking an interest in properties that are located within certified Firewise Communities.

He noted underwriters are taking a second look at those homes, asking questions about certifications so that they can put information into their underwriting guidelines, and he’s aware of some instances where policy discounts are beginning to be offered.

Another attendee reported USAA Insurance was looking at Firewise Communities, too, and offering a policy discount for approved properties.

As a positive movement toward resolving California’s fire insurance crisis, Stockton mentioned that he urges his clients to become involved in the Firewise program and to “sign up early.”

Online Firewise map coming

Sue McCourt, a fire prevention specialist with the Plumas County Office of Emergency Services, previewed a new online tool featuring detailed mapping of the county’s 21 Firewise Communities, right down to property parcel lines.

The project involved county resources to detail the boundaries.

The new web-based map has several overlays to it and will soon go live online. It will also offer mobile capabilities so users can verify on their devices, while they are out in the field, whether a specific property is located inside or outside of approved (certified) Firewise Community boundaries.

CalFire thanks Sue McCourt

During a moment on the agenda when other pressing reports and updates had been given and more were still to come, CalFire Fire Marshal Shane Vargas told the crowded room that he oversees 64 Firewise USA Communities in Northern California.

“Here in Plumas County, Sue McCourt takes care of 21 of those communities,” Vargas said. “She does an excellent job and I never have to worry about those communities. For going above and beyond as this area’s local coordinator, I would like to take this opportunity to give Sue something we appreciate in law enforcement, a special challenge coin that honors her dedication.”

Vargas handed McCourt the engraved medallion and the room broke into applause.

Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District (https://myairdistrict.com)

Call for instructions on any day you are considering lighting a burn pile. Call or check back before you actually light a burn pile. Changing conditions mean approvals may be pulled, even on the same day and on short notice.

Burn Day status information

– Portola: 832-4528

– Quincy: 283-3602

– Greenville: 284-6520

– Chester: 258-2588

Note: According to the Northern Sierra AQMD, the wintertime burn ban is in effect (Rule 318). In the American and Thompson Valleys (all areas within the Quincy Fire Protection District), residential open burning is prohibited until March 16.

Burning is always prohibited in downtown Quincy, East Quincy and the city of Portola.

An Air Pollution Permit from the Air District is always required for nonresidential burn projects.

[the_ad_placement id=”banner-left-placement”]