Weed abatement notices prove effective

VISTA — In an effort to reduce fire risk, property inspections were conducted in Vista resulting in the Fire Protection District mailing out a total of 708 weed abatement notices. During the Aug. 9 meeting, Fire Inspector Mike McFadden indicated a 96 percent compliance rate.

“We continue to work with other property owners to achieve 100 percent compliance,” McFadden said.

McFadden said initial noncompliance for the first inspection triggered a certified letter to residents. Following a month from the time of that mailing, if a re-inspection showed a continued violation, then a “notice” was posted on the property.

“Within about 10 days of that ‘notice,’ if no action had been taken by the property owner to comply with minimum fire safe standards, then the Fire Marshal has the authority to approve the forced abatement process,” McFadden said. 

McFadden reported a recent high number of face-to-face encounters with homeowners. People retreated with the warmer weather, which offered an opportunity for more fire wise education. McFadden shared that fires within the state of California have made residents more aware and proactive on the issue.

“We handed out a lot of wildfire guides, did six individual fire code assessments at homes and I’ve got more lined up,” McFadden said. “Education is such a big part of what we do.”

Also discussed were six emergency access roads in Vista. McFadden pointed out that the district contractor is Aztec Landscaping, and the district hired them to clear those emergency access roads this season. The roads are to be used in situations of emergency only, and when directed and escorted by authorized personnel.

According to McFadden, the city of Vista recently encountered a grass fire of several acres which extended to a small old barn. The suspected cause was children playing with fireworks.

“It (the fire) was near trees and on a slope, with wind driving the fire spread,” McFadden said. “The fire crews were able to contain it without damaging any residential structures, and there were no injuries.

“This was not luck,” he added. “The property owners in the area had taken steps ahead of time to clear their property of tall grasses and also assured low hanging branches from palm trees were pruned.”

McFadden shared that the primary reason for containment was due to weed abatement efforts by residents taken beforehand.

“We can’t emphasize this enough,” he said. “By taking steps to assure defensible space, you and your belongings have a better chance to survive a wildfire event.”

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