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Northern California Crews Prepare For Wildfire Season After Destructive Orange County Blaze

AUBURN (CBS13) — Northern California Cal Fire crews are preparing for fire season, taking note of the wind-driven coastal fire in Southern California Wednesday. The so-called Coastal Fire was burning in an upscale neighborhood in Laguna Niguel among multi-million dollar homes.

The fire started as a 1-acre brush fire near a water treatment plant and quickly grew in size to around 200 acres burned. No one has been injured, in large part, according to firefighters, because they listened to evacuation orders.

The California Fire Safe Council Executive Director, Hedi Jalon, said the coastal fire is a reminder for Californians to prepare their homes early and year-round.

"We're seeing spread in ways we haven't seen before, where maybe a fire like this would've grown to an acre or a couple acres. Now, it's spreading and taking off very quickly," said Jalon.

Jalon said the California Fire Safe Council outlines some of the key ways homeowners can protect their property and homes. As listed on the council's website:

Key Elements of a Defensible Space

  • Keep your gutters and roofs clear of leaves and debris.
  • Maintain a 5-foot noncombustible zone around your home and deck.
  • Break up fuel by creating space between plants, and between the ground and the branches of trees.
  • Mow grass to a height of 4 inches.
  • Keep mulch away from the house. Bark mulch helps plants retain water but ignites and becomes flying embers during a wind-driven fire.
  • During a wildfire move anything burnable—such as patio furniture or gas BBQ tanks—30 feet away from structures.

This is key preparation time for Cal Fire, too. Southern California teams responded to the Coastal Fire, and in Placer County, the Cal Fire Unit Chief said he was proud of the response because there were no deaths or major injuries and evacuations happened quickly and safely.

"More so than ever this year, ready to move forward, and we are prepared," said Brian Estes, Cal Fire Unit Chief.

Estes said residents in Northern California that live in areas more at-risk for fire must stay alert to warnings and evacuation notices, even in months that aren't traditionally considered "fire season."

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