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Posted on May 13 at 6:11 p.m.
As compared to the earlier feel good article, this one tells the real truth. We don't have more resources than ever before - we have far less than we need. And, we're not going to get those resources in the near future - or ever. The only thing we can hope for is that, if we have a major fire, no one else is having one at the same time. The recent Springs Fire is an example. Resources from all over Southern California were called out and damage to structures was almost non-existent. This won't work if there are several major incidents at the same time.
The concept of defensible space is great - in theory. I live in Santa Ynez and have to vacant fields on either side of my home. In order to clear 100 feet from my home on the north side, I have to clear my neighbor's property. They don't clear the grass on their property because they are not required to do so. Why? There's no structure on the property. I called the County Fire Department and they told me that they cannot require brush clearance on vacant properties. When I said that 100 feet from my house is on my neighbor's land, they said, "Cut it yourself." I am. I have done this for several years.
These are state or federal regulations. The person I talked to apologized for the absurdity of the situation. They would change it if they could. Big help.
In the mean time we pay a junk fee of $115 to Cal-Fire. Apparently none of this money has any direct benefit to us. By the way, the vacant properties on either side of me don't have to pay. No structures on the land. Fortunately, fires never start on vacant land.
High Fire Season almost sounds like a society event. But don't worry - we're all invited.
On High Fire Season Hits Hard
Posted on May 13 at 5:35 p.m.
People who think firefighters are overpaid and under worked are the same people who scream the loudest when their home is in danger. That said, the statements made in the article should be considered critically. In particular, the statement by the Cal-Fire chief that we have more resources available than ever before is clearly wishful thinking, if not a complete fantasy. We haven't had air tankers based in Santa Barbara for years. The county no longer maintains a hand crew. The helicopter fleet has serious maintenance problems. The county eliminated its reserve firefighters many years ago.
Having seen brush fires in this area for over 50 years, it is clear that there are never enough resources to deal with a major fire driven by wind and dry fuel. Hillsides that have not burned for years present about the same risk regardless of recent rainfall. Every year has the potential to be a bad year. Saying that we could be in for a bad fire season is about as profound as saying we could have an earthquake sometime soon.
Public officials should not waste their time or ours with media events that do not serve any useful purpose.
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