Santa Margarita homeowners played a crucial role in preventing the Hill Fire from growing into a monster blaze like the 2016 Chimney Fire, which burned more than 46,000 acres and destroyed 70 structures near Lake Nacimiento.
That’s because many of them had followed wildfire counter-measures such as removing dead plants, grass and weeds and relocating wood piles within 30 feet of their homes and mowing their grass to 4 inches or less within 100 feet, noted Cal Fire San Luis Obispo County spokesman Chris Elms.
Those are the key steps homeowners should take to create what’s called “defensible spaces,” he added. Other measures include:
▪ Trimming trees regularly to keep branches at least 10 feet from other trees.
▪ Removing or pruning flammable plants or shrubs near windows.
▪ Removing vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks.
He said people can also contact their local fire department and request a fire safety inspection if they need more defensible-space suggestions.
Fire officials also encourage residents to follow fire safety rules, including:
▪ Contacting 911 if you spot an unattended or out-of-control fire.
▪ Never discarding cigarettes, matches or smoking materials from moving vehicles, or anywhere on park grounds, and being certain to completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them.
▪ Making sure your vehicle is properly maintained, with nothing dragging on the ground.
In addition, Elms encourages residents who live in fire-prone areas to have an evacuation plan. That plan should include what to do with irreplaceable possessions, such as family photos and records, and how to create an evacuation kit that includes spare food, water and prescription medicines, he said.