Fireproofing her home

Keeping the Homefront Safe

With the arrival of warmer weather, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit (TCU) is urging the public to clear defensible space around their homes and take precautions when burning.

“The Unit has experienced three wildland fires caused by escaped debris burns over the past week,” an April 1 press release from Cal Fire TCU reads. “Given the current weather conditions, it is important to take precautions to burn safely. This includes monitoring the weather, having clearance around any burn piles and extinguishing the burn piles as appropriate.”

Cal Fire is urging residents to create and maintain defensible space around their homes.

“With the warmer weather upon us, now is the time for residents to create 100 feet of defensible space around their home and to update their Wildfire Action Plan,” the release reads. “Home hardening and the clearing of vegetation around your property are a huge asset in supporting firefighting efforts should you be impacted by a wildfire.”

While Cal Fire burn permits won’t be required until May 1, residents may still be held liable if a fire escapes their control.

“Use this time to safely burn the debris created by maintaining or creating your defensible space,” the release reads.

For more information on creating or maintaining 100 feet of defensible space, home hardening, creating a Wildfire Action Plan, burning safely or obtaining an online burn permit, visit

Tips to harden home and property to help prevent fires

10 low-cost ways to harden your home

1. When it is time to replace your roof, replace with a fire-resistant Class A roof material.

2. Block any spaces between your roof covering and sheathing (bird stops).

3. Install noncombustible corrosion-resistant metal gutter covers on gutters to prevent the accumulation of leaves and debris in the gutter.

4. Cover your chimney and stovepipe outlets with a noncombustible corrosion-resistant metal mesh screen (spark arrestor), with three-eighths of an inch to half-inch openings.

5. Cover all vent opening with one-sixteenth of an inch to one-eighth of an inch noncombustible corrosion resistant metal mesh screens.

6. Caulk and plug gaps greater than one-sixteenth of an inch around exposed rafters and blocking to prevent ember intrusion.

7. Inspect exterior siding for dry rot, gaps, cracks and warping. Caulk or plug gaps greater than one-sixteenth of an inch in siding and replace any damaged boards, including those with dry rot.

8. Install weather stripping to gaps greater than one-sixteenth of an inch in garage doors to prevent ember intrusion. The stripping must be compliant with UL Standard 10C.

9. When it’s time to replace your windows, replace them with multi-paned windows that have at least one pane of tempered glass.

10. When it’s time to replace your siding or deck, use compliant noncombustible, ignition-resistant or other materials approved by the OSFM.

Cal Fire tips on creating defensible space at no cost

1. Regularly clean your roof, gutters, decks and the base of walls to avoid accumulation of fallen leaves, needles and other flammable materials.

2. Ensure that all combustible materials are removed from underneath, on top of or within five feet of a deck.

3. Remove vegetation or other combustible materials that are within five feet of windows and glass doors.

4. Replace wood mulch products within five feet of all structures with noncombustible products such as dirt, stone or gravel.

5. Remove all dead or dying grass, plants, shrubs, trees, branches, leaves, weeds and pine needles within 30 feet of all structures or to the property line.



Noah Berner has lived in Calaveras County most of his life, and graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in history.

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