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Are You Ready for the Next Wildfire?

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fire-damaged tree

The 2003 and 2007 San Diego County firestorms were tragic reminders to residents that wildfires are one of our region’s greatest risks. Despite the fires' ravaging effects, much of the County remains cloaked in vegetation that hasn’t burned in decades and could become fuel for new fires.

This year’s drought conditions and upcoming Santa Ana season only increase our fire threat, but the danger to families, homes and communities can be reduced through careful planning.

A map created by the County and Forest Area Safety Task Force, a collection of more than 80 federal, state and local agencies, shows several unburned areas. They include parts of Bonsall, De Luz, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow and Valley Center in the north; Alpine, Cuyamaca, Descanso, Julian, Lakeside, Mount Laguna, Pine Valley and Warner Springs in the east; and Boulevard, Buckman Springs, Campo, Dehesa, Jacumba, Jamacha and Jamul in the southeast.

Residents can access the map here.

County codes require homeowners to create 100 feet of “defensible space” around houses. Ways to do that include: keep irrigated, fire-resistant landscaping around your home trimmed and watered; don’t plant flammable shrubs and trees beneath eaves and attic vents; trim trees that overhang or touch your house; keep natural vegetation trimmed and thinned.

Homeowners are urged to be careful when clearing brush. Use gas and electrical powered equipment during cooler, less windy hours before 10 a.m. when sparks are not as likely to create accidental fires.

“Wildfire awareness is critical for San Diego County residents, whether they live in rural communities or in urban neighborhoods next to canyons. We want to provide them with information about how to better safeguard their homes,” said Ron Lane, director of the County Office of Emergency Services.

The Office of Emergency Services is joining with community partners to create awareness about wildfire risk and prevention during September’s National Preparedness Month.

A Wildfire Awareness Guide will be mailed this month to San Diego County residents who live in areas with a high wildfire risk, and can be downloaded at ReadySanDiego.org. The guide will have information about how to safeguard homes for a wildfire, how to get a wildfire risk assessment and how to obtain fire codes from local agencies.

Preparedness Month focuses on promoting preparedness on both an individual and community level, and is sponsored this year by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

For more information on wildfire awareness, general preparedness and a calendar of National Preparedness Month events, please visit www.ReadySanDiego.org.