Two out of three
of my sister's in law live a mile from us. They're both on the
upper portion of two separate hill hills adjoined by a very
small valley. The woman downhill mowed too late into the season.
One sister in law was completely burned out. The fire came to
within 30 feet of the second one's house. Luckily they didn't
get burned out because the one who did now needed a place to
think the woman who started it would have learned her lesson?
Well she didn't. Two years later she did the same thing...
starting another fire!
Another fire 1/4
mile from us was started by illegal wiring. These people had
extension cords strung from outbuilding to outbuilding. They
weren't up to the load and set the place ablaze.
year another neighbor's house and property were in peril from a
blaze that started with a neighbors electrified cattle fence.
Please weed eat under these fence lines to prevent them from
sparking a blaze.
1/4 mile in the other direction an older man was
"disking" his field to turn under the dead grass...
ironically to create a "fire break". Luckily my
husband and I were traveling by with his sisters and brother's
in law soon after the blaze started. We were able to get the
fire under control while waiting for the fire department to
arrive and soak down the area.
grassy field is a great example of early summer in many foothill
locations. The tall grasses would catch in a second with a
cigarette butt, a catalytic converter, or a spark from a mower
You've heard the term "wildfire". That's
exactly what the fires out here are ... wild. They start fast, move
fast, and consume everything in their path very quickly. The best thing
to do is to prevent them. The second best is to be ready with your kids
trained, and your property cleared and defensible.
Ask any of us veterans of country living and we'll tell
you.... fire is absolutely the scariest thing we face here. So
please, help prevent them by doing the following consistently!
You can start by absolutely obeying the fire safety
rules here. They are designed to not only keep us all safe, but to keep
our air clean as well. Permissive fire days are determined with the
cooperation of the California Air Quality Board as well as the California
Department of Forestry and your local fire district. They are meant to keep fire in
check and air quality high.
There are many more accidental ways people start fires
here. Here are some of the major causes -- causes that are all primarily
in the hands of us humans to prevent.
1. Do NOT, under any circumstances, use a weed eater
blade, lawn mower blade in an area of dried grasses. If there's nothing
green or there hasn't been a very recent rain and everything is soaked, you're asking for
a fire. This is a VERY common cause of fire here and you can prevent it
by switching weed eater blades to line, and never mowing, or
using tractor blades in an open field.
2. Do NOT drive your car, truck, or other vehicle over
dried grass. This is also a common cause of fires, and with few
exceptions, could be prevented by following the rules.
3. NEVER throw a cigarette or any other lighted object
from a vehicle, or out someplace when you're on a walk. You've seen all
those burned places along side roads... most are caused from careless
4. Clear around your house and out
5. Trim low branches off from trees and
burn when permitted
6. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER burn
anything after the first of April through October unless you have
a permit, and have checked whether it's a permissive burn day. Fines are
stiff for violating this rule, but not nearly as stiff as the penalty
would be if you burn yourself or your neighbors out by your
carelessness. Lack of attention to a permitted debris burn is
the number one cause of wildfires in this area.
And remember, even if you know your neighbors and
they like you, they're likely to turn you in. When you've seen
fires up close and personal like most people who have lived in
the country for some time, we're going to make sure you learn
your lesson on the first offense. A second could wipe you and
your neighbors out!
7. NO fireworks, firecrackers, or sparklers on
4th of July or anytime between April 1 and until a week of rain in the
Permits are issued at any fire station or Department
of Forestry station.
Permits are ONLY issued by the Department of Forestry
& the US Forest Service.
Preparing for a Possible Fire
Have fire drills with your kids. Make sure they know
what to do and where to go.
Make sure your kids can call 911 and describe where your
property is located. Some of these rural roads and private roads are
hard for firefighters and rescue people to find. Type out some clear
instructions the kids can read, and practice it with them so they'll
learn them by heart.
You may want to install emergency irrigation in
vulnerable areas. For instance, we have a hill that is grassy and
and at the top there's a large grove of oak trees. We have Rainbird®
sprinklers set up to water the hill... fire does generally move up a
hill. If you do this, be sure everyone in your family knows what to hook
up and where the valves are to turn them on.
You may wish to invest in a larger water storage tank.
One neighbor just had a 1500 gallon tank installed for about $3000.
It'll provide water for fire emergencies and also for better water
pressure for household uses and irrigation (thankfully that will be your
Also, have a plan for your animals. If a fire is coming
your way be sure you and your family have a system worked out to either
put all your animals in a safe place, or if a big fire is coming, turn
all the animals out of their barns or pastures. They will typically
outrun any fire and generally stay as close to home as they can. They
know where the food comes from!
Have your address clearly visible.....
Obtain a permit and make sure you follow all the rules
on it. Also, when you phone in to see if it is a "permissive burn
day" you'll get a recording that reminds you that "anyone
who starts a fire that burns onto another's property can be held
criminally or civilly liable."
Safe Resource Directory
Department of Forestry
You think you'll never be in a situation on your own
property when you need a rescue, but that could be a disastrous
misconception. With 30 pounds of Roundup® in my backpack sprayer, I
slipped on some loose rock and slid halfway into one of our ponds. The
weight of the sprayer made movement difficult, and the immediate pain in
my knee told me there could be something serious wrong... and I didn't
have my portable phone with me. Luckily I wiggled my way out of the
situation, got the backpack off and once the weight was off I was able
to move my leg. It complained but I was lucky... nothing seriously
There are dozens of situations that you can find
yourself in that could put you in peril. And, as common sense as some of
this might sound, it's easy to forget in the heat of the moment if
you're working on a project while home alone.
The first rule is one that I learned as an avid hiker. I
used to hike alone (with my dogs) frequently so I learned to always
check in with the nearest ranger station, tell them where I was going,
and what time to come looking for me if I didn't check out again. Do the
same in your country place. Here are the tips that can help you stay out
of a situation where you'll need a rescue:
To Stay Out of a Situation Where You Need a Rescue
1. Let a friend or neighbor know if you'll be going to a
remote or dangerous part of your property alone.
We have lots of rock
walls and large granite boulders. In my quest to rid certain areas of our
property of poison oak, I'm often playing a balancing act with my 30
pound backpack sprayer, climbing rocks and trying dodge the poison oak.
It's kind of precarious at times. Letting my neighbor know is just like
an insurance policy. I know if I fall and hurt myself she will come
looking and know where to look.
2. There are miles of hiking and riding
trails nearby. If you're going riding (horses or bikes) be sure
you let someone know where you're going. If you're carrying a
cell phone for emergencies, be sure you are aware of where you
are so rescuers can find you quickly. The fire department says
they are often 100 yards from someone in need, but they may have
to check 8 or 10 miles of trail before they find them because
the party calling 911 isn't aware of their location on the trail
Again, letting someone know where you'll be is just a good insurance
policy. With acres between
homes out here, it helps rescuers locate you quickly if necessary.
Also, the fire department cautions you to not try and
drive yourself or a friend in the event of a medical emergency. If you
are sick or injured, you have no business driving. If you're driving a
friend, likely you'll be panicky, not thinking clearly, and probably
driving too fast. You are putting yourself and others in danger. They
also caution you to not come to the fire station as they're not equipped
to handle walk in emergencies.
Calling 911 is the fastest and safest way to deal
with an emergency.
They aren't close so prepare a family
emergency plan for various contingencies. Pretty much most
areas in the country are quite places and the neighbors are reasonable.
But, in the past 5 years, one close neighbor was threatened with a gun.
There was a meth lab in a home just 1/3 of a mile away (the grandkids...
granny didn't know what they were up to) which brought an unsavory crowd
and several confrontations with the "customers," etc.
Keep in mind the police could be at least 1/2 hour or more
away. It's a good idea to discuss possible problems with the family
and determine what each member will do to protect him or herself and the
rest of the family while waiting for the police.
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