Creating defensible space can save your home in a fire

CONTRA COSTA FIRE — Fire season is around the corner, and it’s critical that we start preparing now to keep our communities safe.

A report from San Jose State’s Fire Weather Research Laboratory warns of extremely low moisture content in vegetation across the state and widespread drought. It’s a warning Californians know all too well and cannot delay in confronting.

Preparation is the best way to stop a fire in its tracks and is something that every homeowner can do. Three proven fire-prevention methods at the disposal of our residents are weed abatement, tree limb trimming and creating defensible space.

Weed abatement involves cutting grasses down to 3 inches or less. Clear tree limbs as much as possible from the ground up to 10 feet high. If a fire starts on the ground, nearby low branches can create a ladder effect for a fire to climb into the tree canopy. Once a fire reaches the canopy, it’s called a crown fire. It can grow and spread much more easily to homes, structures and other vegetation.

Defensible space involves creating space around your home by removing thick brush, flammable debris or vegetation. The Contra Costa Fire Protection District recommends eliminating this dry, combustible fuel within 100 feet of your home. Creating defensible space is especially crucial if you live on a steep or dry hillside. Proper defensible space dramatically increases the chance of your house surviving a wildfire.

ConFire is also working hard to prepare for this year’s fire season. We recently welcomed five new fire inspectors for the Fire Prevention Bureau, which is identifying and mitigating fire risks throughout the county to keep residents safe.

The department also has several guides on its website to help the community prepare for fire season. For more information on preparing defensible space and weed abatement, visit For more information on general wildfire preparedness, visit

If you need assistance installing smoke detectors or creating an emergency escape plan, reach out to the American Red Cross at and look for the Bay Area chapter.

If you would like more information regarding weed abatement or wish to report an exterior weed hazard in your neighborhood, call the Exterior Hazard Control Division at 925-941-3300, ext. 1505.

If you have any additional questions, contact ConFire at

Karen Mitchoff is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor. Email questions or comments to Mitchoff at