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Fire Officials Admit Higher Fuel Concerns
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With fire season around the corner, May 1-7 has been declared “Wildfire Awareness Week” in California. During the week, CAL FIRE is urging homeowners to be ready for wildfires. Wildfire Awareness Week is designed to not only remind Californians of the dangers wildfires pose, but also to educate them on how to prepare their property.

Oakdale City Fire Engineer Hendrik de Witt talked about the importance of establishing a defensible space around your residence, which includes residences within the city limits.

“You need a 100 foot barrier of bare soil,” de Witt said. “If there was a wildland fire it would stop where the vegetation stops. It also makes it easier to protect your home. The smaller the fuel, the shorter the flames. That’s why it’s so important to keep the weeds and grasses down. It creates a less intense fire.”

Currently, Oakdale City Fire is busy with the weed abatement program, which is notifying and citing homeowners who are not in compliance with the weed abatement requirements. So, if the weeds are overtaking the yard, it’s time to do some yard work before a citation lands in your mailbox.

So far this year, California has experienced above average rainfall across the state. The increased precipitation has left many areas abundantly green and overgrown. However, as warmer temperatures and drier conditions occur, the grass and brush will begin to dry out and the fire danger will dramatically increase.

“This year’s fire season has not started as early as it has in years past,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE acting director. “That’s why residents should take the time now, while the grass is still green, to make sure they are ready for California’s wildfires.”

This year’s theme for Wildfire Awareness Week is once again the nationwide fire preparedness campaign of “Ready, Set, Go!”

Being Ready for a wildfire starts by maintaining 100 feet of Defensible Space and hardening homes with fire resistant building materials.

“This week is a great time for residents to start getting themselves ready for wildfires,” said Chief Pimlott. “It’s the combination of both Defensible Space and the hardening of homes that give a home the best chance of surviving a wildfire.”

Last summer, CAL FIRE launched a new website, to assist homeowners in preparing for wildfires. The site offers steps residents should take to make their home more resistant to wildfires and to ensure that their family is ready to evacuate early and safely when a wildfire strikes.

CAL FIRE will use Wildfire Awareness Week as an opportunity to answer questions about fire safety and how to be better prepared in an emergency situation.  

For more information visit or


Leader reporter Kim Van Meter contributed to this story.