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Shirl Mendonca: Lake Wildwood works to prevent wildland blazes

Shirl Mendonca

My mother lives in Mariposa and was evacuated last week due to the Yosemite fire. My sister lives a mile from my mom and could see the flames shooting over the trees, with only the airport runway separating her home from the fire.

The intense smoke in Penn Valley last month, the Mariposa fire and the recent Rough and Ready fire all remind us to remain vigilant about fire danger. Ordinary activities such as welding, grinding, mowing, edging, trimming, a barbecue, a discarded cigarette and target shooting easily can spark a fire.

With that danger in mind, Lake Wildwood homeowners and the Environmental Management office are cleaning up trees and brush.

But a crown fire in the trees could spread fast. A fire can spread a mile a minute under certain conditions, as last year’s Angora Fire showed. That means that a blaze similar to last year’s Mooney Flat Fire could threaten Lake Wildwood within minutes.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the 49er Fire, which badly scorched Lake Wildwood. The Penn Valley Fire District, in cooperation with the North San Juan and Rough and Ready fire departments, is holding a town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 22 to explain how current conditions compare and what could happen now.

The meeting will be at the fire station at 10513 Spenceville Road.

This is a chance to learn about risks unique to our area, steps that we all need to take and where to look for information if law and fire personnel jointly recommend an evacuation.

Copies of the Penn Valley Emergency Preparedness Guide are available at the fire station. The guide gives lots of information on how to minimize the risks to your family and to your community.

According to Chief Vander Plaats, the most important things are to keep roofs free of dead leaves and pine needles, think before doing anything that can create a spark, and have a good defensible space around homes. Plants that are not irrigated and moist should be removed.

Through the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, the Environmental Management office can schedule a defensible space advisory visit to help determine where you might be at risk; more than 50 homeowners have participated.

The fire department can send personnel to your home to install additional smoke detectors and add fresh batteries to your existing ones. More than 160 residents have taken advantage of the program, and more than 350 new smoke detectors have been installed.

Voluntary donations are appreciated to help offset the cost of the smoke detectors.

Got a tip about someone or something in Lake Wildwood? Contact Shirl Mendonca at shirlmendonca@gv.net.


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