Higher wildfire risks seen | May 7, 2014 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - May 7, 2014

Higher wildfire risks seen

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is assigning extra staff to Northern California, including San Mateo County, due to the heightened wildfire risks. "The drought has set the stage for an already busy fire season," said Kelley Gouette, operations chief for Cal Fire's Northern Region.

Hiring and training of seasonal firefighters has been going on since late January, Cal Fire said.

The Woodside Fire Protection District is having a day-long wildfire drill in parts of Portola Valley, Los Trancos Woods and Vista Verde on Wednesday, May 7. Fire crews will simulate fighting an aggressive wildfire, with equipment being staged at Ford Field at 3399 Portola Road.

Neighborhoods included in the drill include Ramona, Old Spanish Trail, Joaquin and portions of Portola Valley Ranch, Fire Marshal Denise Enea says. The district covers Portola Valley, Woodside and nearby unincorporated communities.

Steps should be taken so that should a real fire break out, it does not spread, Ms. Enea said in January, in recognition that the drought was pushing up the traditional summertime start of fire season. "Homeowners need to be alert and cognizant of the potential seriousness of the situation which presently exists."

Go to tinyurl.com/fire223 for details on steps you can take.

Working with equipment outside is particular danger, Ms. Enea says. A garden hose or fire extinguisher should be nearby when using chain saws or welding equipment, when painting or staining, or when barbecuing.

Gutters, wooden decks and the ground near wood-sided buildings should be clear of leaf litter. Fireplaces should have working spark arrestors. "These simple measures may keep your house from igniting," Ms. Enea says.

The Woodside fire district's annual chipper program to lower wildfire risk begins Monday, May 5. Crews make one visit to every residential street in the fire district.

Go to tinyurl.com/fire224 for more information on the chipper program.


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