Santa Cruz County

Aptos neighborhood proactive with keeping defensible spaces around homes

Cal Fire beginning statewide inspections on homes required to keep defensible spaces

Cal Fire inspections

APTOS, Calif. - If you live in an unincorporated area, Cal Fire wants you to clean up dead trees and brush around your home. Soon, they'll be doing inspections to make sure you do. Its all part of an effort to reduce the amount of fuel for wildfires.

These inspections aren't punitive, but a way for Cal Fire to educate homeowners on how to keep a defensible space. This makes it easier to fight fires and protect homes.

One Aptos neighborhood isn't waiting for Cal Fire. They're already working hard to reduce the potential for fires. Becky Steinbruner lives in that community and knows the risks of living in a wooded area.

"A lot of dead materiel, very flammable material," said Steinbruner.

Wednesday, she walked through the neighborhood proudly.

"They have done a great job here in really creating that defensible space," said Steinbrunner of one home.

Steinbruner pointed to a hillside and said it was once densely overgrown. The homeowners here cleared the brush, the dead trees, and dry wood. Now, it's clear all the way up to the homes.

"They've effectively eliminated the fire ladders," she said.

Further up the road Sandy Lydon has done the same.

"We've cut trees and cleared brush," said Lydon.

He said if said if there's a fire he wants firefighters to be able to save his home.

"They have limited resources. They will skip the ones that are not defensible and go to the ones that are," said Lydon.

By law, homeowners are required to maintain 100 feet of defensible space around structures. The state fire fee is now funding inspections to make sure they comply.

"If there is something that can start a fire, I ask people to be extremely cautious," said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Josh Campbell.

These Aptos neighbor said they are, making it easier to survive a fire, one homeowner at a time.

Cal Fire has these tips that can help homes survive wildfires:

-Maintain 100 feet of Defensible Space around all structures.
-Clear all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves and rain gutters.
-Trim branches six feet from the ground.
-Use trimming, mowing and power equipment before 10 a.m.
-Landscape with fire resistant and drought tolerant plants that require little water.
-Remove branches away from roofs and 10 feet from the chimney.
-Keep wood piles and flammable materials at least 30 feet from the home.
-Use fire ignition resistant building material.

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