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As peak wildfire season looms, SB County Fire Safe Council looks to educate and prepare

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Fire Safe Council
Creating defensible space around your property can help protect against wildfires

As part of Wildfire Preparedness Week in California, the Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council is holding an event May 6-8 to share information about mitigating risks and preparing for wildfires.

Max Moritz is participating in the weekend activities. He is a state wildfire specialist and UCSB adjunct professor. He said educating the public is important since the Central Coast is prone to wildfires due to its chaparral landscape and sundowner winds.

“Often [fire] events are happening in what we call extreme weather conditions — so hot, dry, strong wind conditions,” he said.

Moritz said as we head into fire season, residents play a key role in reducing risks and making the community safer.

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“Make sure you have defensible space around your home, so that firefighters have a place to work, and clean out the rain gutters so there’s not ignitable materials there,” he said.

Paula Lopez Ochoa, the publicist for the Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council, said this is the first wildfire preparedness event of its kind in the region.

“The goal of the event is to educate the public about ways that they can mitigate wildfire danger in order to save their property and save their lives in the event of a wildfire,” she said.

The three-day event features panel discussions, and booths like “Ask a Firefighter.” There will also be a firetruck, and an immersive exhibit called Walk into Wildfire. Lopez Ochoa said the event is kid-friendly.

“When a wildfire happens, the whole family is involved. Kids have to evacuate; kids have to go through the stress and the anxiety. We feel like if they have the information that they need, like what to pack when a wildfire happens or what the evacuation routes are, it’s going to make the whole family feel safer,” she said.

The Fire Safe Council exposition is May 6-8, 2022, in the Direct Relief parking lot in Goleta. Go to SBFireSafeCouncil.org for more information.

Beth Thornton is a freelance reporter for KCBX, and a contributor to Issues & Ideas. She was a 2021 Data Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism.
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