Spring is presenting itself on our mountain after a very dry winter. Within a couple of weeks, the entire annual grass crop will be cured. Cal Fire is already fighting fires in the low elevations of Riverside County, and both it and the U.S. Forest Service will be up to full wildland fire staffing within a week or two.

Spring is the time to revive our fire-abatement measures that will protect your home or cabin from a wildland fire. Unfortunately, every year somewhere in California, we see homes burn down that were not directly in the path of the fire’s flames; rather, burning embers landing on flammable material on the structure’s roofs and decks ignited them.

These fire losses are preventable through continuing maintenance of your property. Long-time residents of “the Hill” know how to constantly inspect their property for any flammable material that can be ignited by an ember cast from a small or large fire.

Last year, we witnessed the worst combination of abundant fuel and long-duration wind events in a long time. Fires transitioned from the wildland into normally fire-resistant neighborhoods, destroying hundreds of homes at a time, killing homeowners (Santa Rosa) and firefighters.

Cal Fire’s Ready, Set, Go! program is a must read for all of us who live in the wildland urban interface (www.readyforwildfire.org). Having a plan prior to an emergency can be the difference between surviving or not.

For those who may not know, the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council stands ready to help families get their abatement done and comply with PRC 4291 (State of California fire abatement standards). We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We have two paid members: Edwina Scott, executive director, and Pete Coy, project manager. Our six-member board of directors is all volunteer, as is our working group, the Woodies (21 members).

MCFSC is funded through grants from the U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire and Riverside County Fire, as well as from donations from the public and civic groups. The grants are 65/35 grants so the homeowner pays only 35 percent of the total abatement cost. One hundred percent of the grant monies go to contractors who do the actual abatement. The 35 percent the homeowner pays and public donations go to public education (bi-annual newsletter and public functions) and operating costs.

Idyllwild Fire Protection District and Cal Fire are beginning their abatement inspections so your property cleanup should begin now. If the job is too big for you, call MCFSC at 951-659-6208. Our contractors normally do not do yard cleanup jobs. However, if you need brush or trees removed that are fire hazards, we can assist with that. No work is done until you approve the plan and the price.

The annual grass crop mentioned above is curing at the bottom of the Hill already and soon will be cured up here. Let us all contribute to a large pile of green waste at the transfer station!

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