Firewise meetings back in session

Portola Fire Wise gears up to prepare for the incoming fire season with the first meeting of the new year to be held at the Portola Branch Library on Thursday, March 19, at 6 p.m.

With below average levels of precipitation and warmer weather, it’s time for Portola residents to look toward what they can do to mitigate fire danger in and around the community, and Fire Wise is here to help.

The group will be taking a look back at the 1988 Powerline Fire that touched the city of Portola, with video recordings at the meeting March 19, and all residents are highly encouraged to attend.

Fire Wise member Dave Rudolph noted, “The video is really worthy of your time and important to watch. I urge everyone to watch this with us.”


City of Portola Mayor Phil Oels commented on the urgency with which residents should look to action items such as hardening defensible space.

“We can help people learn what to do,” Oels said. “We need people in our community to take initiative, as well as help their neighbors, especially the elderly and disabled.”

Attending meetings is a good start for those who wish to contribute to the Fire Wise status of Portola, and Oels asks attendees to bring “ideas, projects, and concerns.”

Living in the midst of the forest environment, it is important to take steps to protect your home and your community from the threat of wildfire.

“Every person from Eastern Plumas county and Portola did some kinds of Fire Wise work this year,” Rudolph said. “If you picked up a pinecone or raked a pine needle, trimmed a tree, removed some brush anything like that you were being fire wise.”


“As we can reduce the amount of vegetation available for a fire to consume, we can also save the homes that might be near these fuel sources,” Rudolph noted when discussing ways to become Fire Wise on the home front.

Some simple steps to take include starting at the house and removing flammable plants so that there is some separation between plants horizontally and vertically to prevent or slow down fire spread.

Rudolph also noted that pine needles and cones and leaves should be removed out to 30 feet away from each structure.

“Clear up to 100 feet out if you can, try to treat all of the land that you have control of,” Rudolph said. “If you have a stand of small pines that creates erratic fire behavior when it burns, well, anything can happen.”

“The reasons to invest time and energy in becoming educated and engage in fire mitigation activities are obvious,” Oels said. “All you have to do is look at Paradise, Redding, Lake and Butte counties, and Southern California. It’s all about protecting lives and property and it takes a whole community to make it work. Any wildland firefighter will tell you, it’s not if, it’s when!”


The biggest benefit to living in a Fire Wise community in Oels’ view, is that it dramatically increases the probability of lives and properties surviving a wildfire incident.

“Citizens should avail themselves of information on all this because it can help them save money on insurance costs, makes their house and home more fire resistant, and can make them more aware of the circumstances and conditions it takes to ably defend themselves from the threat of fire,” said Portola council member and lifelong resident Bill Powers.

“All the benefits of living in a Fire Wise Community haven’t been realized yet, but what we’re working on is to be more insurable and to be more attractive in our sense of well-being and pride.”