Defensible space saves some homes in Squirrel Valley

Residents work to move on, as rubble remains
Posted at 1:21 PM, Jul 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-06 21:30:23-04

Squirrel Valley residents are working to move forward after the Erskine Fire.

A meeting was being held on Wednesday by the Kern County Department of Public Health to provide residents with help on debris removal.


Services have picked back up, with mail and UPS trucks driving down the street.

For the most part, the neighborhood is intact. Then, a glance at the blackened hills, a scorched empty lot, or a home burned to the ground reminds you of the blaze.

A closer look shows homeowners have been back to their homes, picking out broken pieces of china, or knickknacks that survived.

A melted swing set, a child's bed frame and a chimney, is all that's left on one lot to let any passerby know this was someone's home.

"Tomorrow it will be two weeks so it's been tough. Emotionally, just draining because you know not only are these people my customers, but they're my friends," Dawn Foster said.

Foster has been a postal worker in this area on and off since 1993.

"People are so resilient and they're going to get past this," Foster said the community has grown even closer and are so grateful for all of the donations that have come in.

When she delivers mail, she drives by the rubble, skipping the home altogether. Foster says most residents have forwarded their mail or stopped it altogether.

Down the street, a handyman said the only thing that saved the homes there was defensible space.

"Until this happened, I didn't realize how really important this is," Tim Beavers said.

Looking at the hill behind the property he's worked on for 12 years, you can see only trees and a few bushes speckled across the hillside. 

"For about two months out of the year, we weed-eat it down right to the ground," Beavers said they used a weed wacker to take out the extra growth.

Beavers said this year was tough because the weeds were higher from the winter rains, and said he noticed a lot more brush in the mountains around the property, making it a big fire danger.

Beavers recommends everyone create defensible space around their home to protect it and your family.