Official: Many homes lack required defense space |

Official: Many homes lack required defense space

By law, residents are required to have 100 feet of fire-defensible space around their homes for prevention.

But most homeowners are not in compliance, adding to the risk of a catastrophic wildfire, said Nevada County Consolidated Fire District chief Tim Fike.

Only an estimated one-fifth of homes in the areas outside of Nevada City and Grass Valley are in compliance, and enforcement is difficult, Fike said.

“I only have two prevention officers for 17,000 parcels” in the county, according to Fike.

Fire officials have been busy trying to educate residents about the new defensible space law, which took effect in 2005. Before that, 30 feet, rather than 100 feet, were required as defensible space around a house.

“It’s not a moonscape around your house,” said Joanne Drummond, executive director of the Fire Safe Council of Nevada City.

The council offers an advisory program that explains defensible space to people. It outlines plans for placing fire-retardant plants, trees and bushes around residents’ homes to keep them safe.

It also offers a program where landowners can bring their cut brush to the roadside for free chipping. Qualified elderly and disabled people can receive free brush thinning.

“If you haven’t done the defensible space work already, please do it,” said Rob Paulus, a battalion chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Nevada, Yuba and Placer counties.

City dwellers also can take steps to keep fires from spreading through their neighborhoods, said Grass Valley Fire Chief Jim Marquis.

“Keep your roof swept, the gutters clean and get everything out from underneath the deck,” Marquis said.

According to Tahoe National Forest personnel, homeowners can prevent wildfires from spreading by simply cleaning up the brush, weeds, dry grass and pine needles on their land.

To get more information about defensible space, call the fire council at 272-1122 or log on to To get information from the state fire protection department, log on to


To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller , e-mail or call 477-4237.

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