How to fire safe your home in Nevada County |

How to fire safe your home in Nevada County

Officials explained the best ways to passively protect a home from wildifre during a recent meeting.
Sam Corey/


Find information about fire safe home materials at

For special needs assistance keeping your home fire safe, contact The Fire Safe Council at 530-272-1122

If caught in a wildfire, the last thing you want to worry about is your home.

But protecting a home from wildfires must start long before a fire spreads, according to county officials.

“We have to thank our firefighters before a fire happens,” said Dr. Kate Wilkin, forest and fire advisor for Nevada County. The fire expert was acknowledging the work firefighters do before wildfires occur as well as the preparation needed for residents to protect their homes.

Wilkin’s talk was accompanied by Nevada County Deputy Fire Marshal Matt Furtado at a public event as part of the four-part series, Ready Nevada County, on wildfire prevention.

“We want to make sure that a home can passively defend itself,” said Wilkin.

The forest and fire advisor said direct flame contact, radiant heat and errant embers cause structures to burn. She suggested creating a defensible space around homes, making it fire resistant and conducting continued maintenance.

“I’m never going to be done” protecting my home from fire, said Wilkin.

While buying necessary fire protection materials can be expensive, low-income or fixed-income homeowners have options, said Wilkin.

The Nevada County Fire Safe Council has a special assistance program to help people protect their homes, she said.

Wilkin also suggested low-income homeowners can apply for a U.S. Department of Agriculture rural home development loan.

“Those loans can be applied for (ventilation) retrofits, including defensible space and making your home more fire resistant,” she said.


Wilkin suggested concentrating on a home’s roof, vents, eaves, siding, windows, deck and its surrounding vegetation.

Specifically, she advocated buying a Class A (the most fire resistant) roof, multi-paned glass windows and fire resistant vents.

According to state public resource codes, there must be 100 feet of defensible space around any home, ensuring fuels are maintained to reduce the likelihood of fires.

Furtado suggested keeping the distance of five to 30 feet of homes lean, clean and green.


Furtado, a deputy fire marshal who has spent fighting fires since he was a teenager, said the most devastating fire hit the area in 1988, leading to more regulations around fire safety.

There are still plenty of fires in the area, but county officials have managed them well, said Furtado. In 2018, there were 115 fires in the county, which speaks to the preparedness of local officials in the area, said the deputy fire marshal.

Despite the county’s fire prevention activity, wildfires have become more common, larger and year-round, said Furtado, referring to the most significant wildfire in U.S. history occurring in November of last year.

Leaving when a fire is approaching a home is hard, said Jeff Pettit, captain at Nevada County’s Sheriff’s Office, but it’s absolutely necessary.

“If it’s that uncomfortable, don’t stay, just go,” said Pettit. The captain urged attendees to prepare a meeting spot for family members if a wildfire strikes.

The next Ready Nevada County meeting will be about situational awareness is from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., April 15 at the Eric Rood Administrative Center.

Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at

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