By Maria Medina

PALO ALTO (KPIX) — A popular hiking area in Palo Alto is extremely vulnerable to a potential wildfire but now there’s a plan to reduce the threat, according to city leaders.

A Palo Alto Utilities spokesperson said they just put together a utilities wildfire mitigation plan that includes rebuilding, replacing and rerouting overhead power lines and poles, as well as managing vegetation around utility equipment. The foothills are at an “elevated risk” for a wildfire because of the utilities in the heavily wooded and dry-grass area.

The city’s plan to mitigate the risk follows a new law passed after several of the state’s recent wildfires.

“If the fire comes down this way there’s an evacuation plan,” said Palo Alto foothills resident Doug McLean. “We all have go bags and we’ll be ready.”

McLean has lived in the area for more than two decades and has been working on an ember-suppression project for the past six months. A sprinkler system is designed to take water from tanks near his home and spray the perimeter of his home to prevent embers from catching his property on fire.

“It’s hard to look at the fires up in the northern part of the state and what happened to Santa Rosa and not realize that this is just another fire lane here. We just haven’t lit up yet,” said McLean.

He said a fire marshal visits him and his neighbors a couple times a year to make sure the vegetation around their homes is cut back enough in case of a fire.

“We want to be able to see the fire coming and so we’re lobbying the city to put cameras on that fire station,” he said, adding that it’s a matter of when — not if — a fire hits the foothills.

“I think it’s just a matter of time,” said McLean.

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