September 30, 2008

Officials Surveying Fire Prevention

By Jason Pesick

Fire officials want to figure out how successful they've been at spreading their fire-prevention message in recent years.

They'll be surveying mountain residents from Mt. Baldy to Forest Falls through the early part of October to see if they are taking steps to protect their homes from fires.

"We're trying to find out how effective our program has been thus far," said county fire spokeswoman Tracey Martinez.

The county will conduct the survey with the Mountain Area Safety Taskforce, which is made up of local, state and federal agencies, along with Southern California Edison.

A long drought and the bark beetle infestation have killed millions of trees throughout the San Bernardino National Forest, leading to potential for extreme fire danger. Fire suppression has also led to dense areas of the forest, which presents further fire danger.

"The majority of the forest is too dense," Martinez said.

A survey last year showed that 89 percent of people surveyed had taken some steps to protect their homes from fires. But the survey also found that only 39 percent of people had also cleared live trees, or green fuel.

Officials want to spread the word about clearing green fuels and focus on people who aren't permanent mountain residents who may only be up there occasionally, Martinez said.

"They need to be aware that it's their responsibility to have proper clearance," she said.

Vegetation should be at least 30 feet from a house.

For more information about how to protect your property, visit or

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