SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Fire activity is up across California, and now CAL FIRE is urging homeowners to take extra steps to protect their property and their lives.
Wildfire season could get ugly this year. CAL FIRE says fire activity is up 45% this year, mostly because of the lack of rainfall during the winter season. They're asking Californians to do their part to protect themselves by maintaining what they call "defensible space" around their home.
CAL FIRE Nipomo Station 20 Captain Allen Patchett says, "what we're looking for is vegetation clearance near structures."
Defensible space is the entire area around a house within 100 feet. CAL FIRE inspects houses in the spring, right before the worst of the wildfire season. Houses where fire danger is high are usually the first to be looked at.
Fire crews want to make sure there's less flammable material near a house, and instead more flame-resistant plants.
"If a fire goes through, we want to eliminate fire coming and continuing and burning up against the structure," says Patchett.
Larry Hoekman points to the now-barren field in front of his house. Hoekman lives in Nipomo, where dried brush and vegetation surround the area. Just recently, Hoekman cleared the field of tall grass in front of his house before it dried out. He does it every year, without CAL FIRE having to tell him to do so.
"It's common sense to try and keep within your home a limited access to any fire things," says Hoekman.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department will begin these defensible space inspections starting May 1st.