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"All it takes is one little ember": KCFD enforces Hazard Reduction in mountains

Wildfires can happen almost everywhere, but those living in the mountains have to take some extra steps to stay safe
Posted at 5:08 PM, Jun 04, 2024

PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, Calif. (KERO) — Kern County Fire enforces Hazard Reduction requirements in the mountain communities to keep the community safe.

  • Living in the mountains and among all of the trees, wildfires are a common threat when summer approaches.
  • Kern County Fire takes precautions in preparation for wildfire season.
  • While the clearance deadline was June 1, it's not too late to get ahead of the season.


Andrew Freeborn with the Kern County Fire Department says hazard reduction in the mountains is a game-changer.

“Even fires that I’ve been on personally where, the difference on saving a home or not came down to the work that someone had already done on creating that defensible space around their home,” said Freeborn.

He says something as small as removing dry needles and branches can prevent a spark from spreading into a structure fire.

“You’re creating a safe space around where you live,” said Freeborn. “And it’s a safe space for you to operate in every day, but is also a safe space for firefighters to defend your home if there were a fire.”

At the beginning of June each year, the KCFD requires those living in the mountain communities to clear up ‘defensible space’ around their properties.

“It is to prompt individuals to take action because once we get into June and we move on from there, really it becomes very difficult for individuals to finish that kind of clearance because it’s just so hot and it takes a lot of work to get that clearance done,” said Freeborn.

He adds that the mountain communities have recognized the importance of creating defensible space, even helping out their own neighbors.

“We are very happy that so many people comply with these things because so many people see the importance of doing this on their own properties or they see that their neighbor can’t do it,” said Freeborn. “And so they come together, neighbors helping neighbors, making sure that all of their properties are clear and it’s valuable. It definitely makes a difference.”

While the guidelines vary based on the property, Freeborn says a basic rule of thumb is the 100 ft around your property.

Courtesy: Kern County Fire Department

“…the first 30 ft of your property, you’re completely removing anything dead,” said Freeborn. “And that last 70 ft that you’re manicuring or trimming the areas around your property.”

Beyond protecting yourself and your neighbors, complying with the hazard reduction deadline also prevents receiving citations.

“All it takes is one little ember, one little spark, one little piece of fire,” said Freeborn.

Even though the June 1 deadline has already passed, Freeborn tells the community not to throw in the towel.

“Don’t think, ‘well, the deadlines here, I missed my window.’ It’s something that should be maintained throughout the year,” said Freeborn. “So even if it looks like you may not have it quite all finished by June first, don’t give up. Just keep going, get it all done.”

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