SONOMA COUNTY (KPIX 5) — Fire inspections are about to begin for more than 3,000 residents of unincorporated Sonoma County as part of an expanded effort to reduce wildfire danger that has grown with a wet winter.
“I’ve just been noticing as I’m going around a lot of tall grass everywhere that’s drying out,” said Jay Morris, a Sonoma County resident. “People aren’t taking care of it, so it’s time to wake up.”
Morris has been noticing the explosion of green along Montgomery Road and he is not the only one. The local fire district has placed the neighborhood at the top of their list for county funded inspections that will begin June 3.
“It’s based on the local knowledge of the fire district officials,” explained Sonoma County Fire Marshal James Williams. “They understand what they see, and what’s most concerning to them.”
The county organized approximately half a million dollars for the expanded inspections, which will be conducted at the direction of fire districts across unincorporated Sonoma.
“We’re looking for things like grass that need to be cut less than four inches,” said Williams. “Trees overhanging chimneys and roof lines that need to be cut back. The kinds of things that can turn small neighborhood fires into disasters.”
“The idea is to not create a situation where fire can move from building to building to building. So you want that defensible space,” said Williams.
While some homeowners are taking this responsibility seriously, neighbors say others in the area are not. Morris says he, for one, is happy to hear the inspectors are coming this way.
“I lost three houses in the Santa Rosa fire, rental houses in Coffey Park,” he said. “It almost came out here, and would have if the wind had kept going. So we got the ready for the next one.”
While there are no fines for any violations of the fire ordinance, the county will charge the property owner for repeat inspections and any necessary abatement.