El Dorado County fire officials, residents gear up for peak fire season

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

As temperatures become warmer and the vegetation gets drier, the risk for wildfires in Northern California is growing right now.The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors recently issued a proclamation, declaring the period of May through October 2024 as Wildfire Awareness Season. County officials are calling on all residents to be prepared for wildfires.Ken Pimlott, with the El Dorado County Office of Wildfire Preparedness and Resilience, said although late spring rains delayed the typical dry conditions across the county, recent fire activity in recent weeks shows that the weather is changing.“El Dorado County is wildfire prone, and just because we’re getting a late start to fire season this year does not mean those same conditions and the threat doesn’t exist and won’t be here later, and so that proclamation is just critically important to make sure every citizen in El Dorado County is aware of the wildfire dangers in our county,” Pimlott said. “All of our residents need to prepare now.”Part of those preparations include home hardening efforts, including installing ember-resistant vents and fire-resistant siding to homes. Lucas Shepard, a captain and fire prevention specialist with the El Dorado County Fire Protection District, said home hardening is most effective when paired with defensible space.| MORE | A 2024 guide for how to prepare for wildfires in California“The biggest thing that we see that folks can do and maintain is their defensible space,” Shepard said. “What that looks like is your noncombustible zones, the ember cast that are going to hit the home in those wildfire events. Don’t have light flashy fuels or receptive fuel beds to make a bigger problem out of. So, having your clearance to the state standard or the local ordinance is really important.”Officials recommend clearing about 100 feet of space around your home of any materials or vegetation that could easily turn embers into massive flames. Residents are urged to check all their plants as an extra precaution.“Even lush, green vegetation may appear green and healthy on the exterior, and when you peel in there, you can feel how dry and ready it is for an ember to land,” Shepard said.Shepard also said residents should rid their roofs and gutters of pine needles and oak leaves.If fires spread to homes, officials said people should be prepared to act fast in the case of evacuation warnings or orders. Residents should come up with an evacuation plan ahead of time with their families, already have to-go bags packed and make electronic copies of all important documents.“If there’s a big incident in the county, or if there’s evacuation notifications or warnings, or evacuation orders, having a plan for those. We don’t want the first time that you think about evacuating to be the day of or moment of,” Shepard said.El Dorado County uses an electronic evacuation alert system called RAVE. Residents can click on the link on the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office website and fill out their information. RAVE will then notify residents about evacuations and provide other emergency alerts through phone calls, texts and emails.Outside of the home, fire officials said to prevent doing lawn work with a mower during the daytime, and instead do that during the early morning or evening hours. People recreating outdoors, are encouraged to be cautious of campfires and bonfires, especially while near dry brush and wooded areas.Fire agencies said they are gearing up for more active wildfires as summer begins. It is something that Cal Fire Amador-El Dorado Unit Battalion Chief Josh Vickers said he has already started seeing.“The fire starts are becoming a lot more common, we’ve started going to more of those in the past few weeks,” Vickers said.Starting next week, Vickers said Cal Fire’s Amador-El Dorado Unit will begin getting all its equipment and staffing back. Those resources are scaled back during the spring months but then brought back to full operation for peak fire season in the summer months. Vickers said the Amador-El Dorado Unit has 15 fire engines, 15 hand crews, 2 dozers and aircraft that will all be in place soon.“All of our engines should be back fully staffed as well as our crews, dozers and aircraft by the week of June 17,” Vickers said.Vickers said Cal Fire’s goal is to keep at least 95% of all fire ignitions to 10 acres or less.

As temperatures become warmer and the vegetation gets drier, the risk for wildfires in Northern California is growing right now.

The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors recently issued a proclamation, declaring the period of May through October 2024 as Wildfire Awareness Season. County officials are calling on all residents to be prepared for wildfires.

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Ken Pimlott, with the El Dorado County Office of Wildfire Preparedness and Resilience, said although late spring rains delayed the typical dry conditions across the county, recent fire activity in recent weeks shows that the weather is changing.

“El Dorado County is wildfire prone, and just because we’re getting a late start to fire season this year does not mean those same conditions and the threat doesn’t exist and won’t be here later, and so that proclamation is just critically important to make sure every citizen in El Dorado County is aware of the wildfire dangers in our county,” Pimlott said. “All of our residents need to prepare now.”

Part of those preparations include home hardening efforts, including installing ember-resistant vents and fire-resistant siding to homes. Lucas Shepard, a captain and fire prevention specialist with the El Dorado County Fire Protection District, said home hardening is most effective when paired with defensible space.

| MORE | A 2024 guide for how to prepare for wildfires in California

“The biggest thing that we see that folks can do and maintain is their defensible space,” Shepard said. “What that looks like is your noncombustible zones, the ember cast that are going to hit the home in those wildfire events. Don’t have light flashy fuels or receptive fuel beds to make a bigger problem out of. So, having your clearance to the state standard or the local ordinance is really important.”

Officials recommend clearing about 100 feet of space around your home of any materials or vegetation that could easily turn embers into massive flames. Residents are urged to check all their plants as an extra precaution.

“Even lush, green vegetation may appear green and healthy on the exterior, and when you peel in there, you can feel how dry and ready it is for an ember to land,” Shepard said.

Shepard also said residents should rid their roofs and gutters of pine needles and oak leaves.

If fires spread to homes, officials said people should be prepared to act fast in the case of evacuation warnings or orders. Residents should come up with an evacuation plan ahead of time with their families, already have to-go bags packed and make electronic copies of all important documents.

“If there’s a big incident in the county, or if there’s evacuation notifications or warnings, or evacuation orders, having a plan for those. We don’t want the first time that you think about evacuating to be the day of or moment of,” Shepard said.

El Dorado County uses an electronic evacuation alert system called RAVE. Residents can click on the link on the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office website and fill out their information. RAVE will then notify residents about evacuations and provide other emergency alerts through phone calls, texts and emails.

Outside of the home, fire officials said to prevent doing lawn work with a mower during the daytime, and instead do that during the early morning or evening hours. People recreating outdoors, are encouraged to be cautious of campfires and bonfires, especially while near dry brush and wooded areas.

Fire agencies said they are gearing up for more active wildfires as summer begins. It is something that Cal Fire Amador-El Dorado Unit Battalion Chief Josh Vickers said he has already started seeing.

“The fire starts are becoming a lot more common, we’ve started going to more of those in the past few weeks,” Vickers said.

Starting next week, Vickers said Cal Fire’s Amador-El Dorado Unit will begin getting all its equipment and staffing back. Those resources are scaled back during the spring months but then brought back to full operation for peak fire season in the summer months. Vickers said the Amador-El Dorado Unit has 15 fire engines, 15 hand crews, 2 dozers and aircraft that will all be in place soon.

“All of our engines should be back fully staffed as well as our crews, dozers and aircraft by the week of June 17,” Vickers said.

Vickers said Cal Fire’s goal is to keep at least 95% of all fire ignitions to 10 acres or less.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.