It is widely accepted that California’s fire problem is becoming worse, with the occurrence of larger more destructive and frequent wildland fires. According to CAL-Fire, the 2018 wildfire season was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season on record in California, with a total of over 7,500 fires burning an area of over 1,670,000 acres, the largest area of burned acreage recorded in a fire season.
Many of these large and destructive wildfires have occurred within and around Ventura County, such as the more recent Woolsey and Thomas fires. It is not just the wildland fuel itself that is the hazard. Rather, the hazard is created by the combination of homes built within the Wildland Urban Interface, in close proximity to wildland fuels, many without adequate or well-maintained defensible space, and especially older homes that were not built with wildfire safety in mind. This fact, combined with the rugged terrain, increasingly hot, dry weather, and the seasonal appearance of “Santa Ana” winds that can exceed 70 mph, make wildfire safety projects an extremely high priority within Ventura County.
The recurrence of large and destructive wildfires in Ventura County has raised awareness of the urgent need for wildfire safety education and home preparedness training in wildfire prone areas. Much of the destruction and loss of homes is caused by firebrands landing on and igniting flammable materials outside or around a home. Before firefighters can reach these burning homes, often a good distance from the main fire front, flames quickly spread to neighboring homes, increasing the destruction.
With proper education, planning and preparation the potential hazards related to wildfire can be reduced. There are proven methods for homeowners to prepare their homes and withstand the threat of wildfire. By limiting the amount of flammable vegetation, choosing fire-resistant building materials and construction techniques, along with periodic exterior maintenance, residents can prepare their home to withstand embers and minimize the likelihood of flames or surface fire touching the home or any attachments.