RANCHO SANTA FE — Leaders from the RSF Fire Protection District visited the Rancho Santa Fe Association, its board of directors, and meeting attendees. In addition to relaying information from the Bernardo Fire it was also an opportunity to offer an outlook on future fire conditions, various ways to protect structures, and answer questions.
First up, Fire Chief Tony Michel thanked the RSFA for the invitation.
Michel told the board of directors there is a direct relation between fire and a prolonged drought.
“The speed and fire activity that we witnessed in the Bernardo Fire and the other eight we had in north San Diego was affected by the wind and dry fuel we have right now in Southern California,” Michel said.
Twice a month, the RSF Fire Protection District measures fuel levels by checking the chaparral and coastal sage. Both were at critical levels in February; and, those numbers are generally seen in August and September.
Michel compared the Bernardo Fire as having a similar footprint to the Witch Creek Fire in 2007. Mutually, they were fast moving fires.
Michel pointed out successes from Bernardo Fire which included the cooperation from the City of San Diego, Cal Fire, and other numerous agencies throughout Southern California.
Another level of success, Michel said, was being the first fire since it received majority of resources such as aircraft, boots on the ground, supervision and more.
Next up, Deputy Chief Mike Gibbs used a map of the Bernardo Fire, which showed where it started and the pathway and acreage it charred.
Deputy Fire Marshal Renee Hill then addressed being fire safe. Looking ahead into the fire season, the department has focused a great deal on fuel modification for all homes, new construction and existing construction.
Defensible space of 100 feet around a structure is strictly regulated.
“And it’s not just the thinning of brush, but also having fire resistant landscaping within the first 50 feet of the home,” Hill said. Within this 50 foot range, the goal has been on planting drought tolerant and fire resistant plants such as succulents.
And if it’s time to evacuate, they want residents to do so to stay safe.
Fire safe steps include defensible space, installing ember resistant vents, having fire resistant roofs, and clearing plant and debris from rain gutters.
“If a firefighter is not there to put out little spot fires, your home will protect itself,” Hill said. “That is kind of what we have with ‘Shelter in Place’ communities where we don’t have an engine at every house because we have homes that essentially protect themselves from heat and embers.”
The presentation from the RSF Fire Protection District was well received with a long applause.
Michel offered the Association an opportunity to have future presentations for residents.
The Association agreed it would be a great idea.