I agree with everything Nathaniel West wrote about structure-fed wildfires. I believe fire abatement is like a chain and no stronger than the weakest link. That weakest link, my friend, is our fire-trap homes.

It doesn’t make sense to denude the forest floor and deprive the soil’s ability to retain moisture only to live in fire-trap, cedar-sided houses with redwood decks and oval incendiary bombs known as propane tanks.

Propane is such a rip-off and a needless risk. I heat my all-electric house with a wood stove while I have two electric water heaters, two refrigerators, an electric range, dishwasher and dryer. This costs less than $400 year. Yes, wood heat is work, but I need the exercise.

And I have a friend whose house survived the 2007 Lake Arrowhead wildfire while scores of her neighbors didn’t. The reason? She had trex composite decks and her neighbors didn’t. The flying embers melted into the trex while the neighbors who clung to their mantra,“In Sequoia we trust,” went up in flames immediately.

When Riverside County Building Department issues new home permits here on the Hill, it now requires either fiber cement siding or might still accept T-1-11 5/8-inch plywood, as I understand it. That’s a bold step, but what about the fire-trap houses already here? And why aren’t composite decks a requirement?

As for embers entering attics and foundation vents, I purposely left them off my home and it’s fine without them largely because it’s so
dry here.

Idyllwild may have to bite the bullet and reside in redeck houses now. Maybe insurance companies can ante up less now in lieu of more later?

Or should all of us default, and wait to let the insurance companies do it for us in our post-wildfire, moonscape mountain.

Meanwhile, by all means rake and haul away the top soil to the point that our water lines freeze and our trees die. At least it’s something.

Mike Reno
Pine Cove and
Post Falls, Idaho