Contra Costa County

Contra Costa County Conducts Fire Abatement Inspections

Contra Costa County firefighters are on the hunt for properties that didn't clear out the dead brush that can be a fire magnet as the deadline to create that "defensible space" was last weekend.

The county ultimately will clean those properties, but the property owners will be footing the bill.

Resident Mike Nichols says living in a high-risk fire zone makes him feel very nervous, especially since the lot across the street is overgrown with weeds, perfect fuel for a fire.

"If the fire gets into these trees, it’s going to be like a bomb," Nichols said. "Things like this keep me up at night."

Fire prevention technician Kathy Woofter says the weed covered hillside is indeed a disaster waiting to happen.

"Fire is like the Cookie Monster," Woofter said. "If it has fuel, it’s going to eat, eat, eat."

Last month, the Contra Costa County Fire District ordered property owners in high-risk fire areas to clear out their weeds, brush and low lying limbs with a June 16 deadline. Now that the deadline is up, county technicians are out inspecting this week to make sure property owners complied. Some did not pass the test.

"If you don’t abate your property in time, and we have to do it for you, it will cost thousands of dollars," Woofter said.

The fire district will now notify property owners that they’re hiring someone to do the work at a much higher cost, and owners will have to pick up the tab.

Firefighters say those property owners have little choice.

"We are in for a high-risk fire season," said Steve Hill, of the Contra Costa County Fire District. "It’s critically important everyone take their responsibility seriously."

Nichols is relieved the district is cracking down on folks who aren’t doing their part and putting entire neighborhoods at risk. He prays his stays safe.

"Hopefully, we don’t get no fires happening, nothing happens this year," he said.

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