Sacramento and the Threat of Wildfire
Sacramento may be the sixth largest city in California, but we wear our small-town roots with pride. Surrounded by farmland, the Delta and the Sierras, we often have more in common with our surrounding countryside than we do with our neighbors to the west and south. For the most part this is a good thing—we have amazing agriculture, outdoor recreation and easy access to the mountains—but it also means problems that face more rural areas face us as well.
To be specific, the recent rise in wildfires has taken a particular toll on Sacramento. The increased threat of wildfire in California has already begun to have serious consequences for us—much more so than goliaths like San Francisco and Los Angeles. While we may not be in danger of losing our homes due to wildfire, fires have a direct impact on our relatives and friends, our greater community, and our air. Many of us have friends and family who live in the more rural areas surrounding Sacramento. Not only are we worried for them, we also want to help protect their homes and lifestyles. More, recent fires have exacerbated the housing crisis in Sacramento and homelessness has been on the rise. Finally, last year we experienced the direct pain of poor air quality. During the most recent fires, spending the day breathing Sacramento air was roughly the equivalent of smoking eight cigarettes.
On a large scale, governmental, nonprofit, and private sector initiatives are all working toward understanding why wildfires are becoming more prevalent and how to stop them. But on a smaller scale, individuals aren’t helpless in the face of what may be the new normal. Here are a few things you can do to protect against and prepare for wildfire.
It’s more important than ever to practice fire safety in wilderness or rural areas. Always watch and fully extinguish campfires (douse them with water and stir the ashes until they’re cold), and take extra precautions with flammable materials such as matches and lighter fluid. Also, make sure to fully extinguish cigarettes.
Denizens of apartments in downtown Sacramento don’t need a 100-foot defensible space, but homeowners (and renters) in East Sacramento, Land Park, Pocket and everywhere else should be managing the fire hazards around their homes. These can include low-hanging branches, dead brush or bushes growing close to the home. If you or your friends live near a park; an empty lot or field; wildland; or any kind of green, open space, having a 100-foot defensible space is the law.
Unfortunately, in Sacramento, we can now expect to have intense periods of poor air quality in the summer and fall due to wildfires. Plan accordingly by stocking up on NC-17 masks, air filters and air purifiers.
Knowledge won’t defend you against everything, but learning about the causes and ramifications of wildfires won’t hurt. If intense wildfires are California’s new normal, it’s a situation that’ll be changing significantly in the next few years. Staying informed and active can help as we all learn to adapt.Read moreRead less