Moraga-Orinda Fire department chipping for residents to prevent fire danger

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (KGO) -- The Fourth of July holiday always brings with it concerns about fire danger, but in one East Bay community, the fire department itself is stepping up to provide residents with hands-on help in creating their own defensible space.

It's not a traditional tree service, but instead a crew from the Moraga-Orinda Fire Department doing their part to help residents of this heavily-wooded community reduce their exposure to a catastrophic fire.

"It's called a community chipping program," said Fire Chief Dave Winnacker, who explained the new grant-funded program is designed to close the gap between what residents are easily able to do on their own and finishing the job.

"Our crew comes in and runs the chipper, so that these small or medium sized projects that aren't appropriate for commercial operations," explained Winnacker. "We provide the connecting file, that allows the community through their work, to mitigate the fuels."

This work comes as the summer is set to heat up and move into the most dangerous part of the fire season.

Work has yet to begin though in the Wildcat Canyon area where Orinda meets Berkeley, an area where the brush is thick, the weeds are tall and the fire danger is especially high.

It's part of a 14-mile stretch the state designated as one of 35 areas in California in need of a critical fuel-reduction project. With work set to start next week, the North Orinda Shaded Fuel Break will protect 30 East Bay communities.

"I'm glad that the fire department is being proactive about it and not waiting until it catches fire on its own," said Richard Shechter, a Dublin resident who told us he hikes in the Wildcat Canyon area three days a week.

More information on the free program can be found here.
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