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Sacramento Starts Weeding Out Fire Danger Early After Damaging Blazes

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento is cracking down on people who have overgrown weeds on their property as an early start to fighting fires before they have a chance to destroy homes.

In 2015, several homes were damaged by fires fueled by dry brush.

Erica LaBeff's home still has scars from last summer's fire. Hers is one of eight properties that suffered damage from the blaze that broke out along Jacinto Road and quickly spread through the dry brush that the owner of the vacant property failed to clear.

Now, the weeds are growing up to the top of her newly rebuilt fence.

"I have a fear of them, everything catching on fire again and me losing everything," she said.

The city faced criticism last year for not doing enough to hold property owners with weeds accountable. This year, they're starting the weed abatement program two weeks early with extra staff and a firm deadline for more than 7,500 properties to be cleared.

If the property owner doesn't, the city will hire a contractor to clean it up.

"The property owner would be responsible for payment for the contractor's services in addition to a 20 percent administrative fee that we tack on to that, in addition to administrative penalties that we issue on the property," said Carl Simpson with Sacramento City Code Enforcement.

His office says 70 citation have been issued to people who have not cleaned up their property. The citations are $1,000 each. Twenty people have appealed their citation and will have an appeal hearing in August. Code enforcement encourages people to report any overgrown properties by calling 311.

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