Fire spreads uphill. This fuel will go up quickly.

Ninety percent of wildfires are caused by humans; be it sparks from a car, a camp fire, or a backyard BBQ. Hot embers can be blown by the wind for miles and still ignite a fire in dry grass or other flammable material. In a nutshell, you are only as safe as your neighbor. Your weed abatement and yard clean-up may inspire them to do the same; helping the neighborhood to be more fire safe.

In Martinez, California CERT members have been actively involved in assisting the county fire protection district survey high fire risk areas of the community, especially along dry windswept grassy hills and ridge lines. CERT fire survey team members walk neighborhoods to see that property owners have defensible space around the property dwellings, engage in conversations with property owners and provide informational brochures that explain defensible space and actions to take for greater fire safety.

In 2020, Martinez CERT had 12 fire survey team members report more than 60 properties in the high-risk fire zone area not in compliance with local weed abatement requirements. These properties, overgrown with tall dry weeds and grasses, are more then just a fire risk to themselves. They put adjacent properties at the risk too.

Fire experts predict high fire risk over the next 4 – 5 months, especially so in northern California, with fires burning through the night. According to Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter, we are in the peak fire season… particularly dry communities are north of Alameda Count. Craig Clements, Director of the Fire Weather Research Laboratory at San Jose State University noted that “moisture levels in Bay Area plants now are where they were last August and at levels not seen in July since 2014 and 2015 at the peak of the state’s historic drought.

It takes a village to be safe – so be an inspiration to your neighbors and weed abate your yard and surrounding area. Make a neighborhood project out of the need to be fire safe.