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From the June 2012 Battle Mountain News

posted Jul 3, 2014, 2:05 PM by Joe Christy

Burn Season Over – Fire Season Beginning

Fire season is upon us. The dry early winter and late rains have combined to produce more grass and shrubs – readily ignitable 1 hour and 10 hour fuels - than in most recent years, so it's important to clean up your 100' of defensible space before fire season begins in order to give firefighters safe space to defend you and to keep small fires jumping from your home to your yard or vice versa.

Even better than enabling the defense of your home is preventing it from igniting in the first place. When large wildfires strike Bonny Doon, it has been very hot, dry, and especially windy. Embers and firebrands can reach you on the wind from thousands of feet or even miles away. Don't let a fire get a foothold on your roof or in your gutters – clean the debris from them.

The most significant threat of ignition comes from embers entering your home. They come not through windows & doors, but through the air vents into attics and dead spaces. Make sure that all those vents are covered by 1/8” or less mesh.

While it goes without saying that your roof and siding should be non-flammable, give some thought to the space between. Eaves not only shelter insects, but embers. Consider enclosing your eaves with non flammable materials.

Fuel Breaks Update

The weather has not cooperated with us in May. As of this writing, it has been either not windy enough to disperse smoke or so windy that we would risk dispersing embers were we to burn, particularly in the shrubland fuel break opposite Sunlit Lane. Disposing of the cut fuel there is our highest priority.

Unfortunately, the grant that funds our mid- and lower-Empire projects was written to be extremely lean in order to maximize our chance of landing it. For over 2 miles of fuel breaks we have only about $12,000 in cash. That would suffice only if we were to burn the cut material. Moreover, the Federal budget battle delayed the start of our funding to late March. We have been able to negotiate a four month extension to the grant to take us into the fall rainy season, so for our piles in the shaded fuel breaks and our windrows on strategic ridges far from homes, burning remains a feasible option. By collecting the fuel into well separated piles under a high canopy or into low dense windrows at the tops of ridges, we have already significantly decreased the threat of wildfire there.

In the shrublands the situation is different. Chaparral has evolved to depend upon and be resilient to intense fires, like the Martin Fire. The fuel at Sunlit was so dense in places that we had no choice but to build large loose piles to feed into small burn piles, nearly filling the spaces in our mosaic. The alternative is chipping; for ecological reasons, we cannot broadcast the chips, so they must be hauled away. Chipping and hauling the chips triples our costs, so we will need to find additional funds to address the current threat in the shrubland fuel breaks. Please consider a tax-exempt donation to help keep our community safe.