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Cal Fire Cracks Down With Defensible Space Citations

Cal Fire

Cal Fire officials say a slower fire season has given them more time to ensure property owners are maintaining a defensible space around structures.

The state agency issued more than a dozen violation referrals in Shasta County.

To have defensible spaces, property owners need to ensure there aren’t debris piles or pine needles up to 30 feet around structures. Then up to 100 feet, they need to keep grasses mowed and hedges and trees trimmed.

If property owners don’t follow these guidelines, they could face fines of at least $100.

Captain JT Wallingford of the Cal Fire Shasta-Trinity Unit says citations are a last resort, since he recognizes that many residents don’t have the resources they need to maintain a defensible space.

“There may be a financial barrier to having the ability to complete that,” Wallingford says. “But the way we look at that is, it's a very important safety item that would need to occur.”

This year, Cal Fire issued 16 violation referrals in Shasta County to the District Attorney’s office. All violations involve residential properties.

Wallingford says these guidelines don’t just protect homes from wildfires.

“We’re also looking at protecting the wildland from structures,” Wallingford says. “So structures ignite often. There’s a lot of activity that people participate in around their structure that cause fires. By having proper defensible space a structure fire will stay in the structure and it won’t affect the houses around it and the community around it.”

April Ehrlich is an editor and reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, she was a news host and reporter at Jefferson Public Radio.