A wildfire that began on May 5 in Santa Barbara County, Calif., continues to burn. The County of Santa Barbara declared a local emergency due to the fire and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency, meanwhile reminding Californianas to be vigilant in preparations to protect properties during Wildfire Awareness week that began May 3.
According to the National Interagency Coordination Center, the Jesusita fire located six miles northeast of Montecito, Calif., has already burned 500 ares, and continues to threaten residences. Two thousand homes and more than 8,000 people were under evacuation orders as of Wednesday evening, according to the Governor’s office. Firefighters were especially concerned at that time as high winds that could reach 65 mph, called Sun-downers, could blow through the area. Santa Barbara County Fire Department Public Information Officer Capt. David Sadeki was not available for comment at press time.
Officials noted the Jesusita fire is especially close to where last November’s Tea Fire occurred, which destroyed more than 200 homes in Santa Barbara and Montecito. Estimates of that fire reached $632 million for residential properties because the average price per house in that area is $1.4 million, with the median estimated at $1.3 million.
Meanwhile earlier this week, the Governor signed an executive order in honor of Wildfire Awareness Week May 3-9. The order mobilizes the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and other state agencies to secure and deploy the additional resources and personnel that are necessary to save lives and protect homes statewide from wildfires.
As part of the proclaimation, the Governor’s office noted CAL FIRE will be conducting fire safety inspections throughout the state inthe coming weeks to educate homeowners of the importance of wildfire safety and to ensure that homes have 100 feet of defensible space.
“Wildfire Awareness Week is designed to remind Californians of their ability to make their homes fire safe,” said Chief Del Walters, CAL FIRE director. “Fire prevention is a team effort that starts with homeowners preparing well in advance of a fire.”
This year’s Wildfire Awareness Week theme is centered on the idea that fire protection is a team effort, “You provide the defense, we provide the offense.” The first part of fire prevention starts with homeowner’s creating 100 feet of defensible space around their homes, the Governor’s office stated. The second is CAL FIRE’s part when a wildfire does occur, the department has a large arsenal of different equipment to protect Californians.
CAL FIRE will use Wildfire Awareness Week as an opportunity to answer questions about fire safety and how to be better prepared in an emergency situation.
Sources: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, NICC, Office of the Governor, Santa Barbara County Fire Department
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