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How "defensible space" helped prevent the Bear Fire from spreading to nearby homes

Posted at 11:19 PM, Jul 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 02:19:47-04

It was around 1:15 pm Sunday that the Kern County Fire Department was sent to take on the Bear Fire in the I-5 Grapevine Corridor in the Lebec area, according to Kern County Fire Department Captain, Jim Calhoun. Ten to 15 mile winds spread that fire and caused a mandatory evacuation for 50 homes southwest of Lebec Oaks Road Sunday afternoon (The evacuation has been lifted, and no order warnings or advisories are in effect for the Bear Fire, according to KCFD). What saved a house under threat and the surrounding homes, was a concept called defensible space.

"It being a bad fire season already, and the past three fire seasons, up to 10 if you want to say, have been pretty horrendous,” Calhoun said. “So we want to do our due diligence, and this homeowner did, so we want to commend them on that."

Zones 1 and 2 are required by law for defensible space, according to CAL FIRE. Zone 0, the board of forestry and fire protection are set to develop by January 1, 2023, according to CAL FIRE.

“The hazard reduction consists of keeping 100-foot defensible space around your home, as well as debris from around your home, overhanging tree limbs, stuff like that,” Calhoun said.

In Zone 1 for example, it's crucial to remove dead plants, grass, weeds, dry leaves, and pine needles from your yard, roof and rain gutters, according to CAL FIRE. They also suggest moving wood piles to zone two and removing or pruning plants and shrubs near windows that could catch fire.

In Zone 2, homeowners should manicure lawns to a maximum of four inches, and create horizontal and vertical space between grass shrubs and trees, according to CAL FIRE. Things like fallen leaves, needles, twigs, and small branches, they also recommend removing. Exposed wood piles must have a minimum 10 feet of clearance down to bare mineral soil in all directions, according to CAL FIRE.

"If everybody does their job, it makes our job a lot easier," Calhoun said.