Severe drought conditions prompt significantly earlier than usual declaration
Santa Rosa, CA- The City of Santa Rosa Fire Department will officially declare May 17, 2021 as the start of this year’s wildfire season in Santa Rosa.
The date has been set following several days of Red Flag Warning conditions just outside the City limits in the North Bay Mountains and in combination with recent local hot and dry weather. The season comes significantly earlier than normal due to severe drought conditions locally, and throughout the state.
“We’re now faced with drought conditions and the potential for another long and significant fire season.”Scott Westrope, Santa Rosa Fire Chief
The Fire Department is asking residents, especially those who live within or around the City’s Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) area, to take steps to prepare properties and update household emergency plans in anticipation of an active wildfire season. Proactive measures taken now will go a long way to protect residents, properties and the community at large for the next several months during the height of a hot and dry season.
“Since 2017, our community has experienced several damaging and even deadly wildfires,” said Fire Chief Scott Westrope. “We’re now faced with drought conditions and the potential for another long and significant fire season. I ask that the community please take the appropriate measures to protect your home and your property this fire season. Your efforts will not only help prepare and protect you, but they will contribute to the protection of our community as a whole.”
Preparing Households for Wildfire Season
Residents can take the following immediate actions to protect their properties AND prepare their households for a potential emergency:
- Maintain a ‘defensible space’ of at least 30 feet around the home; trim back trees, especially low hanging branches and branches near rooflines a distance of at least 10 feet.
- Clean the roof and the gutters of debris.
- Rake up and remove leaves from around your home and from under decks.
- Move wood pile and other combustible materials away from your home or deck.
- Inspect and repair exterior siding, including dry rot, gaps, cracks, and warping to protect your home from embers.
- Review emergency plans and evacuation procedures and discuss with all household members.
- Take stock of emergency essentials like food and water and assessing “Go Bag” needs such as clothing, medicine, and important documents.
Weed Abatement Inspections Triggered by Fire Season Start
The Santa Rosa Fire Department will also initiate annual weed abatement inspections beginning after fire season starts on May 17th to ensure owners of required properties cut weeds and seasonal grasses that are over four inches in height and maintain this practice throughout the fire season. Properties required to take this measure include those within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), on all vacant lots across Santa Rosa (including those in fire rebuilding areas), or on developed properties with more than a half-acre of unimproved land. For information on the City’s Weed Abatement Ordinance, property inspections, and to determine if a property is in the WUI, visit srcity.org/WeedAbatement.
Wildfire Ready Community Workshops in May
Later this month, to help further prepare the community for wildfire season, the Fire Department, in partnership with the City’s Office of Community Engagement, will host a virtual Wildfire Ready workshop series. Each virtual event will focus on a different topic related to wildfire season, be recorded, and have live Spanish translation available, unless otherwise noted.
The public is invited to tune in to one or all the following virtual workshops:
- May 24 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. – Historical and Scientific Wildfire Education
- May 25 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. – Preparing Your Home/Property
- May 26 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. – Our Shared Trauma Around Wildfires (English language only)
- May 26 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. – Our Shared Trauma Around Wildfires (Spanish language only)
- May 27 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. – Preparing for an Emergency
Recordings of each workshop will be made available for residents to access on the Fire Department website following each event.
For additional information and guidance on wildfire preparedness, view the Santa Rosa Fire Department’s Wildfire Ready online information center at srcity.org/WildfireReady.