This October 27th, twenty years will have passed since the fire of 1993 that burned almost 400 homes in the City and in Emerald Bay. While no lives were lost, the damage and scars left by that fire are still visible today. Many residents moved to Laguna Beach in this past 20 years and were not here during that fateful Wednesday afternoon. While we hope an event like this will never happen to us again, we must remain diligent in our preparedness efforts and work together to protect our community. Here are some examples of how the City works to protect the community:
Weed Abatement Program: Every year the Fire Department identifies over 550 parcels in the City that are declared a public nuisance and must be cleared of dead or dying vegetation. This program is now in full swing and the results should be visible as you drive through the City.
Fuel Modification Program: Fuel modification is an engineered plan that protects new residential development in the City. Each new development has four zones providing a minimum of 170’ of irrigated and non-irrigated zones, setbacks, and a selection of appropriate plant palettes for each.
Fuel Break Program: The City has maintained a fuel break program around the City for many years using many different methods. From cattle grazing on the open space, to hand crews, to our current process of using goats, which were introduced in 1990, the process of maintaining a fuel break around most of the City is an ongoing, annual process.
Hazard Complaints: The Department relies on members of the community to take an active part in prevention. All reported hazards are inspected and followed up in a timely manner. If a fire hazard does exist, the Fire Prevention Division will open a case and work to mitigate the problem.
Ready! Set! Go! Program: The Department has partnered with other fire agencies in Southern California to develop a wildfire action plan for your home. Get Ready! Create a defensible home through advances in building construction and fuel modification. Get Set! Prepare your family so when a fire strikes you and your loved ones know what to do and where to go. Go Early! By leaving early, you give your family the best chance of surviving a wildfire. More information can be obtained at /cityhall/fire/fire_prevention/weedabatement.asp.
Red Flag Patrol/Laguna Fire Safe Council: A group of local volunteer residents and business members who help to protect the local region from future disaster. The council has received grants that keep the residents informed about fire dangers and to promote fire mitigation measures. During “Red Flag” fire weather conditions you can see members of the Red Flag Patrol proudly displaying their “Fire Alert” flags. More information can be obtained at http://lagunacoastfiresafecouncil.org/.
This past winter the City has received less than half of our normal rainfall (6.67”). While the hillsides may look green today remember that most of the fuels can dry out completely in only an hour or so of direct sunlight. Help us protect you by making sure you, your family, your home and your neighborhood are ready.
Jeff LaTendresse, Fire Chief