Fire season preps: Free service allows Inland Empire mountain residents to clear defensive space

With a late-spring heat wave moving into Southern California, residents in the mountain community of Wrightwood are getting ready for summer. They're also getting ready for fire season.

In a community that's dealt with its fair share of fires over the years, residents know all about the potential for a devastating situation especially with so much new growth.

"Look at something like the Paradise Fire (last November)," said John Aziz of the Wrightwood Fire Safe Council. "You know how quickly a community can go up (in flames)."

It's one of the reasons mountain residents take the threat of fires so seriously. And the reason why so many people were taking advantage of the Tri-Community Green Waste Recycling Days program last week. The program allows residents a convenient location to dispose of pine needles, dead branches and other contributors to fire danger found around the yard.

"Providing that defensible space makes a huge difference," said Aziz. "(It allows) the firefighters to be able to protect those structures."

The program is offered free of charge, and was made available by a cooperative effort between several agencies including the San Bernardino County Fire Department. Organizers said because the service is free and allows residents an easy place to dispose of green waste, it's given residents the extra incentive to make defensive space around their yards - especially with so much growth after a winter with above-normal precipitation.

"The rain brings on a lot of flashing fuels," said Aziz. "The fine fuels; the weeds and grasses."

The program moves to the Lytle Creek area on June 15. After that, it will move to various communities throughout the San Bernardino mountains for the last two weeks of the month.
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