FIRESafe MARIN News

Wildfire Safety Blog and News from FIRESafe MARIN.

Wildfire History: 1917-1941 Marin Wildfire Maps

Wildfire History: 1917-1941 Marin Wildfire Maps

An important piece of Marin history, and valuable data for Marin's fire and land managers, was recently rediscovered.  Several hand drawn maps showing wildfires, dates, and acreages between 1917 and 1941 were compiled by Edwin B. Gardner, Chief Warden of the Tamalpais Forest Fire District and the first Fire Chief of Marin County Fire Department.  The Fire Lookout tower atop Mt. Tamalpais was later dedicated and named for Chief Gardner.

Most of the maps have extremely detailed legends, noting dates and acreages, with color coding to denote the size of smaller fires.

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Twenty Years Ago, Today: Marin's "Vision Fire"

Twenty Years Ago, Today: Marin's "Vision Fire"
1995 Fire Destroys 45 Homes and Burns 12,000 Acres in West Marin

20 years ago today, Marin's most destructive wildfire in recent memory began on the slopes of Mt Vision near Inverness.  Less than four years after the devastating "Tunnel Fire" in the Oakland/Berkeley hills, Marin firefighters and residents saw their own homes and parks blackened by fire in the Wildland/Urban Interface (WUI).  Between October 3-16, 1995, the Vision Fire burned 12,354 acres near Mount Vision in the Point Reyes National Seashore, scorching the scenic and sparsely populated land between Tomales Bay and the Drakes Bay along the Pacific Ocean. Winds of up to 45 mph turned the smoldering remains of an illegal campfire on Mount Vision into a firestorm that consumed private property, State Parks, and federal land.   Within hours, 45 homes were destoryed in Inverness Park, and the fire forced the evacuation of 422 residents in the hills above Inverness, Olema and Point Reyes Station. There were no fatalities or major injuries.

The Vision Fire added further emphasis to FIRESafe MARIN, formed only three years earlier in the aftermath of the Tunnel Fire in the Oakland/Berkeley hills.  With new evidence in hand that the concept of Defensible Space had actually saved homes in Inverness, and invigorated Marin communities now truly understanding that such an event could happen in their own backyard, FIRESafe MARIN and local fire departments and land agencies began a 20 year program of fuel reduction, education, and community collaboration.

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Tamalpais Fire Crew Shares Wisdom for Protecting Homes From Wildfire

Tamalpais Fire Crew Shares Wisdom for Protecting Homes From Wildfire
"The main reason we were successful defending the homes we did was due to the defensible space provided by the homeowners,” he said. “We were not successful at saving some homes in the neighborhood as we were spread too thin.”

The Marin Independent Journal published an excellent interview Saturday with Tim Walsh, Crew Superintendant for Marin's Tamalpais Fire Crew, upon their return from the devastating Valley Fire in Lake County.   FIRESafe MARIN extends condolences to the families of those who died and to the thousands of families whoe lost their homes and belongings, however we are not stunned that a fire like this occurred.  More damaging wildfires are likely as we reach October, historically the most critical month of fire season in Northern California - without taking into account this year's record setting drought.

Upon returning from the Valley Fire, Walsh and the Tamalpais Fire Crew immediately returned to work for FIRESafe MARIN where our partnership helps reduce vegetation fuels in Marin's wildlands.  Currently nearing completion on a eucalyptus removal and fuel break project on Ridgewood Fire Road above the Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space Preserve, the Tamalpais Fire Crew is one of Marin's best resources for not only fighting wildfires, but preventing them and reducing the intensity of ones that might occur in the future.

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NFPA Provides Teen Resources to Prepare Family, Pets, and Horses for Wildfires

In households with pets and horses, we treat them as members of our family, and like their owners they require proactive planning and actions to ensure they can be safely evacuated when wildfires occur.

As of today, getting pets and horses ready for a wildfire just got a whole lot easier! NFPA has developed a fun video and preparedness checklists developed specifically for middle and high school students to get them started making the animals in their lives ready for a wildfire. The video was created for teens to share with friends on social media and encourage them to get involved too!

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Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Property from Wildfire

Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Property from Wildfire

IBHS, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety published this excellent list of the "Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Property from ;Wildfire." At FIRESafe MARIN, we agree - take action on these ten items and your home, and community, stand a chance. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association found that homes with a fire-resistant roof (#4) and 30 feet of defensible space (#10) have an 80 percent chance of surviving a wildfire.

(In no particular order) 

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You Are Invited to Attend a Public Meeting

You Are Invited to Attend a Public Meeting
Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) Update

Marin County Fire Department & FIRESafe MARIN are actively working to complete an update to the 2005 Marin County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).

We invite all interested parties to attend one of four CWPP public meetings:

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Last Week's Wildfires Rank 3rd and 7th Most Destructive in California History.

Last Week's Wildfires Rank 3rd and 7th Most Destructive in California History.

CAL FIRE has released damage assessments for last week's wildfires in California, revealing a total of 2,684 structures burned on the two fires, including 1,783 on the Valley Fire south of Clearlake, and 901 on the Butte Fire south of Jackson. Five residents died in these fires.

For the purposes of this report, “structures” includes residences, outbuildings, and commercial properties.

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One in Three California Homes at Risk of Wildfire

One in Three California Homes at Risk of Wildfire

From USA Today:

A third of homes in California are located in areas prone to wildfires, according to data from the U.S. Forest Service, a startling statistic that helps explain the fires that destroyed hundreds of homes in the state over the weekend.

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Engaging children of all ages in wildfire safety efforts

This year’s fire season has drastically affected many Americans across the nation. It has been so sad to hear about the tragic loss of lives, and property.  Children especially can feel vulnerable and scared when they hear about these events and have not had any education about what they can do to be prepared and help their family prepare before a wildfire.

NFPA has launched a new campaign called TakeAction in collaboration with State Farm Insurance that highlights activities and a contest for youth from the 6th through 12thgrades.   Take a look at the videos and opportunities for this age group to learn about what they can do and perhaps win a scholarship for project work completed. Information and resources for younger children are also available on the NFPA website. 

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Lake County Wildfire Burns Whole Communities Overnight Saturday

Lake County Wildfire Burns Whole Communities Overnight Saturday

FIRESafe MARIN is keeping our neighbors in Lake County in our thoughts, as dozens of Marin County Firefighters assist battling an "explosive" wildfire that started yesterday, growing to 40,000 acres in the first 16 hours (now 70,000 acres and still growing 4 days later).  Less than 40 miles from Marin, the communities of Cobb and Middletown, east of Calistoga and north of Napa suffered severe damage, with early reports from Marin firefighters on the scene indicating that nearly every home and business in the downtown areas may have been damaged or destroyed.  Mandatory evacuations are currently underway as the fire continues to spread rapidly towards other communities, including Hidden Valley, Lower Lake, Kelseyville, and others.  Another  fire experiencing explosive growth is burning in the sierra foothills near San Andreas, stretching statewide firefighting resources thin.  Fire infomation is available here...

As we review news footage and first hand reports, it reminds us of the critical importance "wildfire embers" play in spreading fires through the wildland/urban interface.  Many of the images we've seen showing homes and businesses burning show that the structures likely had adequate "defensible space," but may not have been well protected from wind blown embers.  

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FIRESafe MARIN   |   P.O. Box 2831  |   San Anselmo, CA 94979   |   (415) 570-4FSM {4376}   |   info@firesafemarin.org

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