With the recent Tahoe
fires on the minds of many people in the Eastern Sierra, we checked in
with local fire fighters to see how our communities are preparing for
Bishop Fire Chief Ray Seguine says that the brush and fuel loads
surrounding the town are not so high as Tahoe. He also says the
volunteers are close by and can get to the houses to protect them
Earlier in the year, when a suspicious fire broke out near the
canal and threatened homes on Johnston Drive, fire fighters made a
stand on East Line Street but there were also crews in the neighborhood
putting out windblown embers. It is these blowing embers that often set
the homes on fire when they land on a deck, a pile of leaves, or on a
shake shingle roof.
Chief Seguine urges people to clear brush and combustible
materials away from their homes. A wood pile may be hard to light, but
once it gets going it burns hot. While it may be absolutely no fun to
clean out, leaves and debris under a deck can also be a fire hazard.
Firefighters across the country have hammered on the message of
clean property as defensible space. When we spoke with Robert Williams
of the Mammoth Fire Department, he said that Mammoth Lakees has a
tremendous amount of work to do to be better prepared for a wildland
Fifteen years after the Rainbow Fire, homes in the "village in the
trees," vary in how well they are protected. Some owners do a better
job than others at creating a defensible space around their homes.
Williams says that there may be more fire ordinances coming in the
future to make people create defensible space, but for now it is mostly
voluntary. He says he hopes the Tahoe fires open people's eyes to the
possibilities of fire in Mammoth.
While someday the fire department may be able to force citizens to
clear brush and limbs from property, right now they are working to help
people voluntarily do the job. Williams says that he now has vouchers
from Mono Public Works that allow citizens to dump slash, brush, and
plant materials for free at the county dump site.
For more information on defensible space or to pick up a few free dump vouchers, stop by the Mammoth Fire Department and ask.