The San Gabriel Mountains provide a scenic backdrop to our offices. Occasionally, smoke plumes dwarf the mountains themselves, the sky turns orange, and ash rains down on the foothill communities. Every year, we watch on TV as homes are consumed by wildfires in high definition. Often, they don't have to be.
Municipal brush clearance guidelines vary, but the basic principles remain the same. If you live in a fire risk area, know your property lines. Your responsibility isn't just to protect your property, but to ensure you're not putting your neighbors at risk. Keep a buffer zone of at least thirty feet around structures clear of brush. A full two hundred feet from your home should be maintained clear of hazardous plant growth - space plants to cut off paths for fire to spread. Remove lower branches on trees to deny fire an easy route to consume the crown. If you have a fireplace, be aware of branches that could pick up embers - ten feet of horizontal clearance from a chimmney should be your minimum.
It's not just a matter of safety. In many communities, failing to maintain adequate brush clearance is punishable by thousands of dollars in fines.