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Clear Space Before It’s Too Hot… And Too Late

Aired 6/8/12 on KPBS News.

The State of California says defensible space is important, but homeowners shouldn’t start a fire trying to create it.

Firefighters would prefer California homeowners have a hundred feet of space cleared around homes and property. But they also said if you haven't cleared the space by the time the weather heats up, you're better off leaving things alone.

Daniel Berlant with Cal Fire said about a third of all fires are caused by people using some type of equipment when conditions are unsafe.

"We oftentimes see lawnmowers that actually spark fires. And that's because lawnmowers aren't designed to be used on grass fields,"explained Berlant. "The blade might strike a rock and actually spark a fire. Lawnmowers are designed for green lawn, not dry grass. So use the right tool for the right project."

Berlant also recounted how the use of equipment under unsafe conditions a couple of weeks ago started a 5,300 acre fire in San Diego.

Even if a homeowner is clearing defensible space when a fire starts, the homeowner is still potentially liable for the cost of fighting the fire.

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