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Time to be fire wise

Devastating wildfires threaten California every year, and locals are encouraged to participate in wild fire preparedness through the month of May. The worst fires of the last two years have become house-to-house with no regard for the trees or brush.

May is a great time of year to get outside and remove the vegetation next to your house. The area next to your house and for 30 feet out from the structure is called the Home Ignition Zone.

If embers from a fire start a fire in this zone, it could have serious consequences for your house. If enough embers are created by the fire, whether it’s burning structures or vegetation, it can ignite almost anything that those embers land on. This is why we need to remove as much flammable vegetation, dead and alive, that is adjacent to your structures.

There are options available for those who may wish to “harden” their home against embers with fire resistant building materials.

Non-flammable roofing is very important. When doing new construction, a fire-resistant home can be built for about the same as one not so fire resistant.

Many of you will have fences or your neighbor’s house within the 30-foot zone. This is why we need to cooperate as neighbors to lessen the effect of a fire.

Any property that you have control over may need to be treated for fire wise reasons. If you have clumps of brush or stands of little trees, they may pose a hazard for increased fire intensity, spread and spotting. Treat all of the trees and brush that you can to lessen fire activity.

Remove all dead vegetation from this area, including pine needles, cones, leaves, branches, and twigs.

Remove any flammable bushes or over crowded trees, keep grasses short and green. Large green trees may be limbed up to 10 feet from the ground, or one-third the height of the tree.

We live in the Eastside Pine habitat of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountain ranges. The plants that dominate this habitat are: Ponderosa Pine, Jeffery Pine, Douglas Fir, White Fir, Incense Cedar, Service Berry, Bitter Brush, White Sage, Wyethia, Arrowleaf Balsamroot and grasses.

Portola is a fire adapted environment and has a fire return interval of 10 to 15 years. Most of the area’s vegetation would have been naturally thinned out or removed by a lightning ignited fire. This fire return interval has been interrupted by human activity.

This has resulted in an overabundance of flammable vegetation accumulating in the forest. The fuel needs to be treated and reduced for continued forest health and to reduce the impact of catastrophic wild fire. First things first, we need to treat the fuels next to the houses. Get together with your neighbors and make a plan.

Another vital part of wild fire preparedness is having an evacuation plan for the day when a fire is coming to your location. You need to have a small amount of food, water and clothing set aside for this event, along with important documents you may need. Plan the route of your escape with consideration of all conditions and circumstances.

Plumas County has a Code Red notification system, which can be accessed by going online to sign up for emergency notifications. Visit countyofplumas.com and click the Emergency Alert System Sign up to register.

The Portola Fire Wise community will have a meeting Thursday, May 16, at 6 p.m., at the Portola Library, 34 Third Ave. All area residents are invited to attend, share questions and concerns, and receive valuable fire preparedness information.

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