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Olivenhain Fire Safe Council hosts first wildfire prevention event

Olivenhain Fire Safe Council Chair Denny Neville (left) and Encinitas Deputy Fire Marshal Kelly Gaffrey attended the fair.
(Courtesy)

To commemorate Wildfire Awareness Month, the Olivenhain Fire Safe Council hosted a wildfire preparedness fair on May 22 at the Olivenhain Meeting Hall to help local residents gear up for the upcoming wildfire season.

The fair was the first public event held by the fire safe council, which was established a little more than one year ago by a group of residents.

“Our mission is just to get information out to homeowners about how they can take steps to better prepare themselves in the event of an evacuation of any purpose, or in the event of a wildfire in their area,” said Denny Neville, chair of the fire safe council.

With many fire officials throughout California warning of the year-round dangers of wildfires, communities located near higher-risk areas have been learning the risks and undertaking more preventative measures.

“I started becoming more aware of some of the trials and tribulations homeowners have in needing existing fire tools and things when it comes to brush clearance and some of the home-hardening things they can give their home to make it a little more fire safe,” Neville said.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, common home-hardening tactics include replacing wood or shingle roofs with metal, clay or tile. Vents, which provide openings for embers, can also be covered with metal mesh. Windows, walls, decks, gutters and chimneys are also key points that can be fortified against wildfires.

It’s also important for residents to protect themselves and evacuate if necessary.

“We hear of stories where people stay behind to protect their home, and I know people who have done this,” Neville said. “And the people I know who have stayed behind say ‘Never again, this is the most terrifying experience that I could ever imagine,’” he added. “Your possessions aren’t worth it. You save the things that are irreplaceable and protect your loved ones and pets and cross your fingers, hopefully fire agencies are there to protect your home and Mother Nature will do what she wants to do.”

Attendees at the fair included members of the fire safe council, fire department, San Diego Humane Society, Olivenhain Town Council and experts in landscape design.

“It’s a partnership,” said Mike Stein, the fire chief in Encinitas. “The fire department cannot do everything.”

Stein emphasized the need to take preventative measures and gather certain irreplaceable items before evacuating, but also said people should not put themselves at risk to protect their material possessions.

“No structures or belongings are ever worth anybody’s life,” he said.

For more information about the Olivenhain Fire Safe Council, visit olivenhainfsc.org.


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