Preparing for wildfires in Cascadel Woods

Residents in Cascadel Woods near North Fork came together this weekend with one goal in mind; get the once-evacuated subdivision ready for fire season by clearing out brush and dead trees.

On May 7, National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, the 10-member Cascadel Woods Fire Brigade spent much of the day making their area more fire safe, joining dozens of residents also at work.

Brigade members who participated in the cleanup were Carol Eggink, Carol Pace, Simon Elmon, Stan Eggink, Ken Wood, Aimee Cox, Warren Cox, Brian Curtis, Pete Curtis, and Nina Powell.

Pete Curtis provided assistance with his own 30-inch chainsaw, while a $500 donation from State Farm Insurance helped fund a woodchipper rented from Smith Works Rents in Oakhrust that chopped up brush and other hazardous materials.

Cascadel Woods is considered a priority for fuels treatment on 480 acares of private property, with 178 parcels and more than 150 landowners surrounded entirely by National Forest land. It is the No. 1 at-risk community in Madera County for catastrophic wildfire, as specified in the Madera County Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

During last year’s fire season, Cascadel Woods was placed under evacuation twice - once for the Corrine Fire to the southwest of the community, and again during the 5,700-acre Willow Fire July 25 to the north.

The Willow Fire came as close as one mile from the community, as it tore through the forest ravaged by drought and an extensive bark beetle infestation.

Tree mortality in Cascadel Woods is higher than 90% at the 3,000 to 6,000 foot elevation range.

The Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association is pursuing additional grant funding opportunities to reduce fuels in their community.

Details: (559) 760-7235,