RANCHO SANTA FE — It’s October and fire season is upon us. As we approach two years since the devastating Witch Creek Fire that swept through the Covenant and much of San Diego County, the board of directors is urging residents to do what they can to prevent another catastrophic fire. On Oct. 1, the board passed a motion to once again send residents information about what to do in the event of a fire, including evacuation procedures and fire safety tips.
“This is intended as a timely update,” Covenant Administrator Ivan Holler said.
“We can’t be overcomplacent,” President Bill Beckman said. “The possibility of fire scares me to death.”
Since October 2007, the Association has taken several steps toward educating residents about fire safety, including the Association Web site, which provides a link on its home page titled “RSF Fire Information.” The Association has also taken steps to reduce potential for wildfires to spread into the Ranch. Working with Fairbanks Ranch and the engineering firm Dudek and Associates, the Association created the San Dieguito Canyon Wildfire Hazard Reduction Project to reduce fuels in the San Dieguito River Canyon area. Removing brush from the 80 acres Arroyo Property greatly reduced such a threat.
After the 2007 fires, the Association also encouraged residents to register their cell phone numbers with the county’s reverse 911 emergency notification system. A plan to test the effectiveness of such a notification system is to be scheduled for late January. According to Holler, several small neighborhoods will be asked to participate in this test.
The Association urges residents to be prepared for another disaster and there are many steps that can be taken to prevent another fire from being a disaster. These steps include:
— The removal of leaves and other debris from your roof and rain gutters.
— Keeping 100 feet of “defensible space” around your home. Trim trees and vegetation away from the exterior of your home, rooftop, and chimneys.
— Thin out combustible vegetation within 30 feet of roadways and driveways.
— Remove dead, dying, and diseased trees. “And replace them,” Director Dick Doughty said. “We’ve got to remind residents to replace them with healthy trees.”
— Combustible material should be kept at least 10 feet away from propane tanks.
— Firewood should be neatly stacked with a minimum of 30 feet of clearance from structures.
— Trim tree branches 10 feet from rooftops, chimneys, and outdoor barbecues.
Dispose of yard clippings, plant waste, trash, debris, and other combustible materials in an appropriate manner.
Should a fire occur, the Association also urges residents have an emergency plan in place. Items to consider should include:
— Identify at least two exit routes from your neighborhood
— Know the location of safe zones and evacuation centers
— Make a list of important items that cannot be left behind
— Prepare an emergency supply kit
— Consider how you will transport your pets
— Make a contingency plan should you not be home when wildfire threatens
— Register all phone numbers and e-mail addresses with AlertSanDiego, San Diego County’s mass emergency notification system at www.alertsandiego.org.
The fire safety information will be mailed to residents within the next two weeks. “Let’s be over-cautious,” Beckman said. “Being prepared for wildfires before they happen is in everyone’s best defense.”