Southern California wildfires continue to increase in size, intensity, damage and danger to populated areas. In 2020 alone, 3.2 million acres were blackened by wildfires. Though the fire danger is a year-round proposition, the Santa Ana and Diablo winds in early fall create a tinderbox waiting for ignition throughout SoCal. The situation is only exacerbated by 150 million dead trees in the Sierra Nevada alone. In fact, dead trees and accumulated brush and vegetation provide the explosive fuel for these wildfires. The questions arise, what can be done to prevent fires and to reverse the trend of annually expanding burned acreage and wildfire destruction?
What You Personally Can Do to Prevent Wildfires
Chances are these are tips you have heard many times before. Still, repetition of the most important principles is essential to avoid that momentary lapse that leads to destruction.
- If you have seed burn areas Southern California, reseed them with fire-resistant natural grasses to prevent ground erosion and future conflagration.
- Keep lawns well-mowed and avoid exposing them to additional ignition factors such as lighter fluid spills or fireworks.
- Be responsible with fire when camping. Never leave a campsite where there are active coals.
- Landscape with fire-resistant foliage and make sure there is adequate defensible space around any structure.
What California Must Do to Reverse the Trend
One thing that seems clear is that simply fighting the fires is not sufficient, as is evident in the continually growing destruction. Some of the basic ideas you have heard about include controlled burns, improved forestry and electric power management. There is also an interesting move to mow the vast SoCal grasslands. Native grasses and wildflowers are actually fairly fire-resistant. Those grasses that burn are invasive European species that sprout earlier than the natives. If the European grasses are cut back, there is less fire danger.