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From the Slice, April 26, 2013

posted Jul 6, 2014, 4:21 PM by Joe Christy
If you've put off your backyard burn until the last minute, please don't do it tomorrow, Saturday, 4/27.

There are two reasons:
a) even though their website is currently broken, the Air District has declared it a no burn day, and 
b) most importantly the fuel is insanely dry. At the Fire Safe Council's prescribed pile burns today we had crazy spotting and ended up needing 3' wide rings around all our piles. We had to have the engine come out twice in the morning to extinguish very high dead branches that had ignited from convection. The engine came a third time at 2:30 to put everything out. Even though we hadn't fed them for 2 hours, it still took us nearly 90 minutes to get our 6 piles cold and wet to the soil.

This spring has been one of the driest on record. Statewide there have already been 680 wildfires this calendar year, 45% above the long term historical average. There have been already been large wildfires in Lake, Inyo, and Riverside Counties. 
On our mountain, the late rains had been somewhat helpful to late season backyard burners, but the fuel moisture levels are already dangerously low and the vegetation that benefited most from the rains is the flashiest. Remember though that the fuel most threatening to a home in a wildfire is other homes. Now is the time to begin working outward from your own home to eliminate ignition risks. Your home won't burn down if it doesn't catch fire to begin with.
Start on the roof. Clean needle and leaf litter from your roof valleys and gutters; with the recent prolonged windy period there will be a lot of litter which would provide the bed that embers flying in advance of a wildfire will kindle into a structure fire. Next, look to see that your roof and attic vents are screened. Then clean around your foundation and decks. The litter is not the only danger. Think about the bamboo shades, the firewood, the dog bed, and even the broom you use. All of these are readily ignitable.
Make sure that the plantings next to your house are low, clean, and green. Cut the dry grass within 30' of your home to 4” or less, and beyond that out to 100' be sure it 12” or less. Remember that the ground surface is typically 20° to 40° hotter than air and that the slightest wind across a grass fire produces flame lengths dozens of times the height of the grass, flames which move at essentially the same speed as the gusts.
Here endeth the sermon.
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