More than a dozen wildfires have been making rapid progress across eight northern California counties this month, leaving a path of devastation in their wake. Homes and businesses have been burned to the ground, lives lost, and thousands of residents evacuated. Those living in the relative calm of Humboldt County are monitoring the news and looking for ways to help. Local, state, and federal firefighters, along with wildfire preparedness organizations, urge residents to pause during this time of crisis and contemplate the local risks of severe wildfire in our own communities. We can all play a role in lessening the impacts of disastrous events with commonsense preparation. The question we pose to all Humboldt residents today is: How prepared are you, your family, and your home for wildfire?
With this in mind, the Humboldt County Fire Safe Council (FSC), the Humboldt County Fire Chiefs’ Association, CAL FIRE, and Six Rivers National Forest encourage residents to participate in an upcoming series of wildfire preparedness workshops to address wildfire risks in Humboldt County. The first workshop is scheduled for Thursday, October 26, at the Kneeland Elementary School from 6 PM to 8 PM.
Each year, there is a window of high fire risk for every community in Humboldt County when conditions are just right for a single fire ignition to have potentially devastating consequences similar to Santa Rosa.
“I worry about the perfect storm of high fire danger during the wildfire season when local and state firefighting resources are committed to other incidents,” said Humboldt Bay Fire Deputy Fire Chief and Humboldt FSC Member William M. Reynolds. “If a wildfire started during one of those periods, it would have the potential to spread quickly and we would see a large threat, to not only the lives of citizens, but also to homes, schools and businesses.”
Many Humboldt County residents live in what is commonly referred to as the Wildland Urban Interface, or WUI, where homes are intermixed in a potential wildfire environment. For people living in these areas, preparing for the inevitable wildfire is a very serious issue. Fire prevention activities, creating defensible space, and building fire-adapted landscapes should be incorporated into home maintenance routines and family emergency plans.
Relatively cool summer temperatures and coastal influences create a false sense of security for many local residents. Population centers in Humboldt County have not experienced a damaging wildfire recently. However, current vegetation fuel loads are hazardous, increasing the potential for high intensity wildfire, which make containment and suppression efforts difficult and dangerous.
During the wildfire preparedness workshops, you will receive information about wildfire ignition reduction and preparedness, fire protection services, and the Humboldt County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). The workshops will also provide an opportunity for local knowledge and concerns to be incorporated into the CWPP update as well as the planning and implementation of local wildfire mitigation projects.
The CWPP is intended to inspire and guide actions that will mitigate wildfire losses in all vulnerable communities within Humboldt County and help communities become more adapted to a wildfire environment. It is being updated to reflect current wildfire risks, celebrate accomplishments of the past five years, and present the most up-to-date recommendations for how to prepare Humboldt County communities for wildfire. The county Natural Resources Planning Division is facilitating this planning process, with support from ForEverGreen Forestry, and under the leadership of the Humboldt County FSC. The FSC is an advisory group created by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to guide fire-planning efforts to help communities become more resilient to the impacts of wildfire.
The workshop series will include 14 community events planned throughout the county from late October through early December. A detailed workshop schedule can be found on the FSC web page. Each workshop will follow a similar agenda with modifications to meet local needs. Workshop organizers look forward to engaging in meaningful discussion with local residents to identify actions and projects designed to reduce the vulnerability of their homes, neighborhoods, and communities to damage from wildfire.
There are many ways to get involved. Attend a community workshop, visit the FSC web page to find event details and wildfire preparedness resources, and “like” the Humboldt County FSC on Facebook. A public survey will soon be available on Open Humboldt where residents can share their opinions, concerns, and priorities regarding wildfire and our local levels of preparedness.
For more information and to be added to a mailing list for future updates, call or email Cybelle Immitt at (707) 267-9542 or email@example.com.
- Cybelle Immitt, Humboldt County Natural Resources Planning, Staff support for the Humboldt County Fire Safe Council (FSC): 707-267-9542 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lon Winburn, Fortuna Fire Chief and Chiefs’ Association representative on the FSC: (707) 725-5021 or email@example.com
- Chris Ramey, CAL FIRE Battalion Chief, Fire Planning, advisor to the FSC: (707) 726-1224 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Robert Rivelle, Fire Prevention and Training Officer, Six Rivers National Forest, advisor to the FSC: (707) 441-3604 or email@example.com
- Tracy Katelman, Forester, ForEverGreen Forestry, Fire Planning Consultant: (707) 845-8579 or firstname.lastname@example.org