A discarded cigarette started a fire near Tollhouse Aug. 11, temporarily closing Highway 168, threatening 200 homes and resulting in evacuation orders. By late afternoon the next day, homeowners were allowed to return home while firefighters continued to take care of business in staggering heat and breezy conditions.
How fire safe is your home?
Mariposa County Master Gardeners will present a two-hors free workshop on how smart landscaping can help protect your property at 10 a.m. on Sept. 15 at Lake Don Pedro Elementary School, 2411 Hidalgo St., La Grange. Jim Johnson's presentation will include many visual aids and handouts. Here are a few things he'll discuss.
Here are some suggestions from the California Fire Safe Council and the University of California Cooperative Extension about firescaping and other safety reminders.
The general concept of firescaping is that the taller the plant, the farther it should be from your home or other structure.
One hundred feet of defensible space makes it possible for firefighters to safely defend your home. Vegetation that does not ignite easily should be planted in the space.
At the nursery, look for drought-tolerant plants that are fire resistant and have a high moisture content. Avoid plants with resinous sap, volatile oils, pitch and those that produce a lot of debris. Enter "El Dorado Fire Safe Council" in your web browser and click on "Fire safe vegetation" for a list of plants with an assessment of their fire danger.
Eliminate the fire ladder in your landscape. A grass fire can turn into a forest fire in minutes by jumping up the "ladder" from grass to low shrubs to high shrubs to tree branches.Grouping plants of the same height will slow flames down.
Wood piles, propane tanks, lumber, cardboard boxes, volatile chemicals should be at least 30 feet from your structures.
Ideally, mulches should be kept at least three to five feet from your walls; larger chunks are better than small ones, but all mulch can smolder and be hard to put out.
Healthy plants will burn less quickly. Have an appropriate irrigation system that will keep your vegetation perky.
Get rid of fuel that is lying around. Clean up old lumber, dead plants, fallen branches, pine needles and dead leaves. Clean off your roof; embers can fly for a mile and still be "live."
Masonry or stone walls not only add variety to a landscape, they can slow the progress of a fire.
Master Gardeners are volunteer educators for the home gardener, trained through the University of California as part of cooperative extension services.
Details: Mariposa office hotline, (209) 966-7078, e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.