Environment & Science

Wildfires: 8 things you can do today to prepare for the season

Azusa residents look on as a chopper drops water on the Madre Fire in the hills above Azusa.
Azusa residents look on as a chopper drops water on the Madre Fire in the hills above Azusa.
Grant Slater/KPCC

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This year's wildfire season isn't necessarily a new one, but rather a continuation of last year's, thanks to the drought, and state fire officials recommend that homeowners take steps to safeguard their houses now, before the peak fire months.

RELATED: Follow & research alifornia wildfires using KPCC's Fire Tracker.

Eight things you can do today to protect your home from a wildfire:

  1. Remove all dead plants, grass and weeds from at least 30 feet from your house. 
  2. Trim tree branches so that they are at least 10 feet from other trees. Also, remove branches that are 6 feet or less from the ground. 
  3. Move any wood piles at least 30 feet from your house.
  4. If your house has a deck, clear out any inflammable materials, including vegetation from underneath and around it.
  5. Keep a fire extinguisher and tools such as a bucket, rake, shovel and hoe in your garage. 
  6. Trim back any overhanging trees or shrubs to allow emergency vehicles to get access to your house. 
  7. Cover vents with a 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch metal mesh. Vents can allow embers to enter houses. If vents are in an eave or cornice, ember-blocking baffles are also needed.
  8. Use powered equipment outdoors only in the early morning to avoid sparking a wildfire. 

Beyond these simple steps, officials also recommend rebuilding or remodeling using more fire-resistant materials. 

Officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CAL FIRE, said on Monday that they have responded to nearly 900 wildfires statewide so far this year. Normally, that number would be below 340. 

“What usually would start turning green in December and even into November and have a lot more moisture come late spring, has remained tinder dry all winter long, so conditions are ripe for wildfires," said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman with CAL FIRE. "We’ve seen wildfires in the early part of the year in conditions we typically would see during summertime.”

To prepare, the agency has increased staffing to peak levels months before it normally does. 

CAL FIRE has more tips on  protecting your home against fire and helpful diagrams for establishing a "defensible space" around it.