fire season

Contra Costa County Working to Get Ahead of Fire Season

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State officials are telling counties and cities to prepare early for what may be the worst fire season on record.

Multiple municipalities are working with the Lafayette City Council on a new plan to prepare their homes from a wildland fire.

The city now has a vegetation deadline by the end of the month for residents to have proper defensible space around their homes. If not, residents will have to pay the city or county to clean it up.

Danville resident Le Chu is one of many worried about protecting their home this summer.

"In the past we've had fires near here," Chu said. "We've experienced it so I think this year I think it's probably on everybody's mind."

Lafayette City Council members held a special meeting Monday night to discuss preparing for the fire season and the new tools the city will be using this year.

Officials said the state funds additional dollars that go to local governments, so the city can staff up and provide search capacity for known weather events for the fire activity.

Monday also proved to be a good example of just how busy fire crews have been this year. A vegetation fire on Waterbird Way, north of Interstate 680 in Martinez, showed fires are starting early this year.

"We expanded on a program that was brand new last year - we call it crew 12," said Steve Hill, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District public information officer. "It is two crews of fire control workers that are available to support our firefighters at fire scenes."

Contra Costa County has an early-warning system using technology and cameras to locate fires in the hill. The tool gives fire crews a heads up on what type of equipment will be needed to battle a blaze.

The county also has a prepositioning plan for mobile units and extra crews to be put in place.

Those on the front lines said technology, extra equipment and community involvement is a must because the region is heading for a drought and the hills are ready to burn.

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