South Bay Fire Protection Plan Would Add Surveillance Cameras, Remove Brush

The seven most destructive wildfires in California history have all happened in the last 10 years.

Now a report by the Santa Clara County Fire Department is raising new red flags about the South Bay's fire risk.

In the Redwood Estates located at the Santa Cruz Mountains, there are more than 300 homes with thick tree and brush surrounding them. Neighbors said they welcome more fire resources, especially since there is only one road out of the area.

The Camp Fire, California's most destructive wildland fire ever, is a painful reminder of what firefighters call a new normal.

"What we've seen is we are getting larger and more frequent fires," Santa Clara County Fire Department Capt. Bill Murphy said. "And our resources are getting strained."

The fire department analyzed the fire danger and found climate change is quickly increasing our risk.

"Various climate forecasts predict we will develop Southern California weather and we have Northern California fuels," Murphy said.

That includes dense trees and brush that can spread a fire quickly.

To prepare, the fire department wants to create a wildland fire program. It would include removing dry plants and trees, better educating people about defensible space, and putting up surveillance cameras to quickly detect fires in remote areas.

The plan is welcome news to Kristen Firkey, who lives in Redwood Estates. She is one of many who believe this area is a tinderbox that needs extra protection.

The county fire department will now ask county supervisors for more than $1 million in funding to staff the wildland fire program, install surveillance cameras and buy more vehicles.

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