Peninsula city urges for fire prevention plan

May 28, 2008 11:50:13 PM PDT
Home owners living in the Palo Alto hills also worry about wild land fires, like the Summit Fire.

On Wednesday night, they learned the city's protection plan. It is a plan that until now, hadn't been updated for more than a decade.

Bill Terry takes pride in his home. He spends hours every week clearing his property and creating defensible space in case of a fire.

"The city line is 50-100 feet below that fence," said Terry.

And that's why this home owner is worried.

"This is a piece of land, owned by the city and they need to put a plan together to protect it," said Terry.

He and those in the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood association don't think the city is doing enough to maintain its rural acreage.

On Wednesday night, Palo Alto introduced phase one of its new fire management plan. It's a lay out of how to fight, prevent and escape fires.

"We recently had a fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains and I'm sure that heightened people's awareness of the potential for wild land fires here," said Palo Alto Fire Chief Nick Marinaro.

The Summit Fire burned nearly 4,300 acres. High winds drove the fire that destroyed 31 homes.

Newly hired consultants say it's not Palo Alto's weather that's the problem, it's the terrain.

"It's not rated by cal fire as very high fire hazard severity but there are some areas of high hazard," said Carol Rice from Wild Land Resource Management.

Those specific fire danger areas will be mapped out later this summer.

Terry doesn't need a map to tell him where the next fire could be, he just looks out his back yard.

"Be a perfect place for someone to start a fire," said Terry.

"We really have to do a much more concerted effort of paying attention and treating those fuels as they grow," said Marinaro.

That takes money. Exactly how much is something the consultants have yet to calculate.

As for the next step, there'll be two more public comment periods in the next few months. There should be a final fire management plan to take before the city council, by November.


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