Spring Fire evacuee: I wasn’t prepared for wildfire, but my home was

Ruth Fruehaus was evacuated during the Spring Fire southeast of Mariposa, which started July 2. She said maintaining defensible space around her home helped keep it safe.
Ruth Fruehaus was evacuated during the Spring Fire southeast of Mariposa, which started July 2. She said maintaining defensible space around her home helped keep it safe. Submitted photo
Defensible Space works!

Defensible Space works! See how one resident helped CAL FIRE Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit protect her home and ease her mind while she was evacuated during the #SpringFire. Thank you for doing your part. Learn more about how you too can be Ready!: ReadyforWildfire.org

Posted by CAL FIRE on Thursday, July 6, 2017

Ruth Fruehaus, evacuated during the now 90% contained Spring Fire southeast of Mariposa, said in a video posted Thursday by Cal Fire’s Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit (MMU) that her experience should serve as a reminder about the importance of maintaining defensible space.

“I thought I was properly prepared, but I really wasn’t, in hindsight,” Fruehaus said. “However, I’ve worked really hard to make the house prepared.”

Fruehaus said that preparation may have helped keep her home from becoming a pile of ash.

“I’ve done my best to provide additional clearance for weed eating and so on,” said Fruehaus, who had her trees trimmed and brush cleared around her home. “I just want to make sure that emergency vehicles can access the house and that we can get out safely. I also put sprinklers on the roof. I did whatever I could to make the house as defensible as possible in the event of an evacuation.

“I’m so grateful for those instructions (Cal Fire) provides us during the winter months so we can have a level peace of mind,” Freuahus continued. “And while I was out there praying that my house wouldn’t burn down, I knew I had done everything I could possibly do to prevent that, and give the firefighters a chance, a fighting chance, to save our property.”

“She had excellent, excellent defensible space,” said Jaime Williams, (MMU) public information officer who filmed the video. “She went above and beyond our suggestions which ultimately helped with her peace of mind when it came to the evacuation part.”

Williams said maintaining a defensible space around any home helps prevent a disaster scenario.

“We never know where a wildfire is going to start, and if residents are going to be home or not,” Williams said. “So we try to get resources there as soon as possible, but having defensible space can help improve your home’s chances during a wildfire.”

As part of the state’s Defensible Space, Public Resource Code 4291, California residents in the State Responsibility Area (largely in the foothills and Mountain Area) must clear a minimum of 100 feet around all structures on their property.

To help improve on that, Cal Fire provides the following tips:

Trim trees 6-15 feet off the ground.

Clean all needles and leaves from you roof, eaves, and rain gutters.

Trim tree limbs within 10 feet of your chimney and all dead limbs hanging over your house and/or garage.

Make sure your address is clearly visible for easy identification in an emergency.

Make sure driveway access to your home is clear of low hanging branches and cleared of flammable vegetation for 10 feet from the road edges.

The Mariposa Fire Safe Council can provide tips and information on how to prepare for wildfires by calling (209) 966-7700.

Madera County’s Firewise program also offers free consultations and advice on how a resident can protect their home. Visit www.firewisemaderacounty.org or call (559) 760-7407 for more information.

Fruehaus expressed gratitude towards all firefighters who helped put an end to the Spring Fire, and kept her home intact.