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  • Alpine Chamber hears local wildfire action program

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    By the Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce
         The Alpine Fire Protection District’s “Ready, Set, Go!” program was outlined at the Aug. 14 monthly meeting of the Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce.
         With memories still fresh from the July 6 West Fire that burned 38 homes and damaged 15 others in east Alpine, Chamber members and guests listened intently to Division Chief Brad Rushing at the “Hot Topics” meeting at the Alpine Community Center, 1830 Alpine Blvd.
         Rushing stressed the importance of all residents and property owners preparing now for year-round increasingly deadlier, unpredictable wildfires.
     “It’s something that has been part of this environment forever,” the guest speaker said. “We’re right in the middle of 10 of the most dangerous places to live when it comes to wildfires.”
    Recalling earlier major blazes in this region, Rushing said that the Viejas Fire in 2001 was a turning point in California.  Wildfires throughout the state have become more common and more dangerous since then.
         “We do assist up and down the state all summer long now,” Rushing said. “Fire seasons now are almost year-long.”
         In addition to the Alpine homes lost or damaged, the West Fire burned or attacked 21 other buildings, five accessory buildings and a commercial venue. Rushing described the wildfire as another fast developing blaze with devastating results.
         Dryer summers and winters with many homes being built near dry, dense brush in the area  prompted the fire protection district to  implement its “Ready, Set, Go!” program last year, the division chief said.
         “Ready, Set, Go!” booklets are available at the Alpine Fire Station at 1364 Tavern Road and at the Alpine Chamber office in the Alpine Regional Center, 1620 Alpine Blvd., Ste. 208.
         “Following these guidelines might help some of us have a chance,” said Rushing.  “I was astounded no one lost their life in that (West) fire.”
         He said the “Ready” part of the program means taking all prevention and protection efforts possible before a fire starts.
         That includes providing 100 feet of defensible space for firefighting around homes and remembering that any home within a mile of a natural area is in the “ember zone.” Wind-driven embers can attack any home within the zone.
          “Set” refers to doing whatever’s possible in the available time a person has once a wildfire is burning. That includes alerting family and neighbors and having an emergency supply kit.
         “Go” is about leaving early, having a meeting location, taking what will be needed and being aware of possibly jammed highways and roadways during evacuations. .
         “Don’t wait for us to tell you to leave, because we may not be able to tell you,” Rushing said.
    In response to questions, he said property owners are responsible for clearing their property for defensible space before a fire. 
         Asked about the cause of the West Fire, Rushing said there’s been no information yet from an investigation.
    In other business, Chamber Vice Chair Bob Ring of Barons Market told everyone that the Chamber’s new Executive Director Jeff Morris had left the organization to help family and friends coping with huge wildfires near his hometown in northern California.    
         “He did an amazing job while he was here” Ring said, adding that the Chamber board is actively searching for a new executive director.
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