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Lake County Wildfire Burns Whole Communities Overnight Saturday

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Fire Safe Marin is keeping our neighbors in Lake County in our thoughts, as dozens of Marin County Firefighters assist battling an “explosive” wildfire that started yesterday, growing to 40,000 acres in the first 16 hours (now 70,000 acres and still growing 4 days later).  Less than 40 miles from Marin, the communities of Cobb and Middletown, east of Calistoga and north of Napa suffered severe damage, with early reports from Marin firefighters on the scene indicating that nearly every home and business in the downtown areas may have been damaged or destroyed.  Mandatory evacuations are currently underway as the fire continues to spread rapidly towards other communities, including Hidden Valley, Lower Lake, Kelseyville, and others.  Another  fire experiencing explosive growth is burning in the sierra foothills near San Andreas, stretching statewide firefighting resources thin.  Fire infomation is available here…

As we review news footage and first hand reports, it reminds us of the critical importance “wildfire embers” play in spreading fires through the wildland/urban interface.  Many of the images we’ve seen showing homes and businesses burning show that the structures likely had adequate “defensible space,” but may not have been well protected from wind blown embers.  

Like nearby Lake County, Marin is experiencing a record drought, and a spate of recent wildfire ignitions shows that it can happen here.  Even if you have taken time to create defensible space, consider taking a day to help protect your home from embers.  

Here are some ideas that you can accomplish this morning that might save your home this afternoon:

  1. Clean your roof and gutters.  Even a tiny handful of leaves or needles are enough to catch an ember and burn your home from a fire up to several miles away!  During the summer, clean your roof regularly and completely.
  2. Clean any dry leaves from decks and the base of walls around your home.  Like your roof, these areas are susceptible to catching embers and even a few leaves can be enought to burn your entire home.
  3. Inexpensive 1/8″ (or smaller) wire mesh (AKA “hardware cloth”) stapled to the inside of attic and basement vents can prevent small embers from blowing into these vulnerable spaces.
  4. Move firewood and lumber away from your home and under decks.  Firewood and lumber piles notoriously catch wind blown embers during wildfires, and photos from the wildfire buring today in nearby Lake County show wood piles igniting homes that were otherwise well protected!

Photos courtesy of the Press Democrat

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