It's hard to describe the destruction caused by wild land fires the last two years. However, Chief Brian Marshall says his team is ready to minimize future damage this season.
After the last two wild land fire seasons, Kern county fire Chief Marshall says it's only a matter of time before there is smoke in the air.
“If this year is as bad as the last couple years it will be a very expensive and devastating wild land fire season," said Marshall.
Two years ago the erskine fire burned nearly 300 homes in the Kern River Valley and last year the county's department was on the front lines of fires in northern California.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, last year there were more than 7000 fires across the state, burning over five hundred thousand acres. The Kern County Fire Department says there were 1,181 vegetation fires dispatched last year and of those, 641 were logged as vegetation fires.
This year the chief says his department is ready, adding another helicopter base in the Kern River Valley. The department has 47 fire stations throughout the county, along with bulldozers and hand crews in Lake Isabella, Tehachapi and Lebec. The county also has Helitacks, helicopters with the capability to fly at night.
Marshall says preparation is key for reducing fire damage and the way to do that is partnering with the community. He says adhering to the hazard reduction program is the first step in protecting your home by complying to the Hazard Reduction Program. According Nate Perkins with the Kern County Fire Department, the department has handed out a total of 285 citations so far in 2018 for failure to clear ignitable materials within the Hazard Reduction limits. He says those receiving a citation have 14 days to comply with HR standards.
"This is a year round program, keeping your property clear removing the pine needles from your roof keeping the firewood pile away from your house, making sure that there's no way for a fire to get inside the house," said Marshall.
Along with the Hazard Reduction Program, the chief says the public knowing information and following his department's instructions can be the difference between life and death.
"Too often people are trying to escape the fire too late and they literally get caught in the fire and lose their live, it doesn't have to happen, heed the warnings of evacuation and leave when we tell you to leave," said Marshall.
Chief Marshall says everyone should sign-up for Ready Kern. The information system notifies you through phone and email if and when there is evacuation information.