Fire season might start late |

Fire season might start late

Residents are encouraged to practice defensible space around homes.

The 2006 fire season in the central and northern Sierra is predicted to hit later than normal due to a snowy, cool winter.

With precipitation 120 to 200 percent of normal over the winter season, the National Interagency Fire Center’s April fire outlook for the region suggests that a wetter winter delays the point in time when tall brush and other fire fuels dry up and become vulnerable to fire danger. However, when the brush does dry, fire officials say the flash fuels will burn hotter and faster.

Because of that, local fire districts are urging homeowners to think about defensible space.

“With all the rain and moisture we’ve had, there will be a lot of fuel growth. That’s why it is more important than ever to create defensive space around your property,” said Gareth Harris, fire marshal for Lake Valley Fire Protection District at South Shore.

Chief Duane Whitelaw of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District reiterated the need to clear the defensible space around homes and to create an evacuation plan. After homeowners clear debris from their home’s perimeter of 30 to 100 feet, Whitelaw said there are two ways to get rid of the brush. One way is dooryard burning, allowed on specific burn days. A permit is required. The second is by the homeowner calling the fire district in which they live to have the free chipping service come by to take care of the debris.

Local fire districts offer suggestions for creating a fire-safe home, and say they welcome questions.

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