Written by by Lucy Shaw, CNN
Following the deadly wildfires that ravaged southern California over the winter, residents of Malibu, Los Angeles, have begun embracing new habits of their own — cleaning out their neighborhoods with preventative measures.
They’ve begun sourcing fire-resistant materials from a local sourcing company, have barricaded access roads with trash barrels and construction paraphernalia, and they’ve doused rooftops with shovels and buckets in an effort to prevent more embers from flying into their homes, according to ABC7 Eyewitness News.
As so often happens in times of tragedy, local authorities have been slow to grasp the significance of these small counter-measures.
Elaine Nazario shows out yard with boulders blocking the street after the blazes. Credit: Screengrab, ABC7 Eyewitness News
“They’re necessary, but they can be dangerous. These people (who have blocked off access) should be banned from accessing their properties,” said Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen.
“The issue with the trees, of course, and the transient, is they stay; they’re here in November and April, and they don’t change.”
Elaine Nazario and her friend say the wildfire hazard has become more pressing. Credit: screengrab, ABC7 Eyewitness News
Much attention has been given to the hundreds of thousands of additional homes built in Malibu, and the environmental effects that have been attributed to increased natural gas and electricity use, increased natural gas usage, and the built-in structure of utilities in Southern California’s infamous canyons.
Elaine Nazario showed how the brush at the edge of her property has been shaved off, saying she will do what she can to prevent potential problems. Credit: Screengrab, ABC7 Eyewitness News
But one local fire company, Ron Davis Fire Protection District, has another tactic to suggest that could increase public safety.
“The worst part of the problem is … we don’t even have a fire station here,” said station captain Todd Green. “We’re forced to have the emergency medical team respond to the fire – and the woman I saw on the news who jumped off her roof and was trapped, I was able to rescue her before she was ever transported, before they could ever catch her.”
Todd Green shows where the men and women of his fire station jump from their trucks to rescue those who are trapped by flames. Credit: Screengrab, ABC7 Eyewitness News
This isn’t a novel idea, of course. The Federation of Fire Districts of California has been running a hazard mitigation program since 1980, after the nearby Thomas Fire tore through Santa Barbara County. The program provides resources for local fire departments and individual homeowners to identify and assess burn areas of their communities and devise ways to mitigate them.
And while the initiative was set up prior to the recent string of fires, it seems that residents are quickly getting the message.