Our View: Don’t wait until fire comes to defend against it | TheUnion.com

Our View: Don’t wait until fire comes to defend against it

The Union Editorial Board

It's easy to miss the dense overgrowth when driving along Idaho Maryland Road, just up from Brunswick Road.

There's little reason to focus on the manzanita, the Scotch broom or clustered trees when driving from A to B.

There's hundreds, maybe thousands, of spots like this across Nevada County. Hidden away or in plain sight, these fire fuels often cause little concern as we drive from home to work and back.

That is, we don't think about it until the vegetation is on fire and threatening our homes and families.

This casual disregard of the fire danger we face is one of this community's greatest faults. Sure, there's plenty of folks who take the danger seriously and act on it every year. They clear their defensible space and have an evacuation plan. They know that firefighters will prioritize homes they can easily reach.

But there's more of us who fail to clear our property of fire fuels. We don't have our important papers and essential possessions in a bag by the door in case of imminent fire. There is no Plan B for when our only escape route is closed by advancing flames.

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And we continue to drive past the manzanita each day, unaware.

Fire season isn't something far in the future. We don't get to skip a year because of October's Lobo Fire. The danger is here now.

Officials spoke plainly at a fire forum held this week. Don't expect the government to hold your hand. All of us have responsibility over our own land. We must ensure fire engines can safely access our property. We can't expect them to prioritize homes without defensible space.

Prevention is much more cost effective than suppression. Let's take advantage of cool mornings, get outdoors and eliminate fire fuels before they remove us.

Not everyone has the ability to work outdoors or the cash to pay someone to make their property fire safe. There is some help for them. The Fire Safe Council has programs that can help older residents. Don't wait until the fire is here. Call them Monday through Friday at 530-272-1122.

All of us can take action now to save our property and ourselves from the next fire that will strike this county.

Wind-blown embers will bring the fire to our homes before the advancing flames reach them. Clean your rain gutters of leaves and debris. It could save your roof.

Basic yard cleanup is key. Remove dead brush and low hanging limbs.

Have your important documents by the door in case you need to flee. There won't be time to consider what's important when the fire is near. You might only have time to grab your go-bag, get in the car and escape.

Make sure you know your escape routes. Drive them now. Know them by heart and learn alternate ways out, in case your main route is blocked.

Sign up for Code Red — one of the best methods to stay informed during fires. Your phone already might receive the alerts. Sign up again just in case: http://www.mynevadacounty.com/1293/CodeRED-Emergency-Alerts. Register all your phones and leave the ringer on.

All these actions add up to a community that takes the threat of fire seriously. We know fire will again hit our community. We can lessen that impact now.

And maybe we can do something about that manzanita.

Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.