The Cambrian

It’s time to make your Cambria property fire-safe by cutting down overgrown grass, weeds

SLO County is bracing for wildfire — and workers are clearing an evacuation path

Workers remove vegetation along the side of Cambria Pines Road in Cambria as part of a Cal Fire's wildfire management program. The program in SLO County is paid for through funds from PG&E
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Workers remove vegetation along the side of Cambria Pines Road in Cambria as part of a Cal Fire's wildfire management program. The program in SLO County is paid for through funds from PG&E

Cambria’s official fire hazard reduction season — or weed abatement — is in full force, with the sound of chain saws and weed whackers already heard daily throughout town as California heads into high wildfire season after an unusually prolonged rainy winter and spring.

Any owner of vacant Cambria property is required to maintain it and keep it fire resistant year-round, according to William Hollingsworth, chief of Cambria Fire Department.

But those who don’t do it soon may find themselves up against the July 20 Fire Hazard/Fuel Reduction Program deadline imposed by the Cambria Community Services District. In April, the district sent notices to the owners of 1,948 vacant parcels, telling them that they need to make those properties more fire safe.

If inspections show the work hasn’t been done, the district will hire a contractor to clear the tall grasses, weeds, brush and downed trees, and the costs (plus administrative fees) will show up on the landowners’ property tax bills next year. The deadline to clear is later than usual, Hollingsworth said, because late-season rains encouraged more weeds to grow substantially taller and thicker than the norm.

Many of the fields are still soggy, and lanky, damp grasses can wrap around a weed whacker, rather than be chopped by it.

“But things are beginning to dry out,” Hollingsworth said June 4.

He acknowledged that some property owners may have to clear the weeds twice this year to meet the mandate. “It’s all part of the responsibility of owning property,” he said. “The goal is having a firesafe community.”

Wildfire Preparedness Forum

And, in the spirit of planning ahead and knowledge is key, the Cambria FireSafe Focus Group will host a Wildfire Preparedness Forum from 10 a.m. to noon in the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St., on Saturday, June 29.

A PG&E representative will be there to explain measures the firm is taking to prevent fires and the plans for Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

Details will be shared about the pilot evacuation study being done by Cal Poly. The new Cambria Emergency Preparedness website will be demonstrated. And various representatives will present information and helpful fire-preparedness instructions, hints and hacks.

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