News

Brush clearance assistance to reduce fire hazards; clearance deadline June 1

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By David Goldstein and Elaine HimelfarbSpecial to the Ojai Valley News
During the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals are self-isolating, social distancing, and staying home whenever possible. With wildfire season quickly approaching and a June 1 deadline for brush clearance in Ventura County, now is a good time to do some work at home to reduce fire dangers.
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To become more fire-safe, start by removing fuel and combustible items around a home. The largest target for removal is usually dead vegetation. This includes dead shrubs, dried grass, fallen branches, and pine needles, all of which comprise fuel for wildfires.
Next, thin out thick shrubs and trees, create a separation between plantings, and remove low branches. While doing this, your goals should be to create a noncombustible area at least 3 feet wide around the base of your home. Keep the area free of woodpiles, wood mulches, dead plants, dried leaves, and other debris. You should also consider entirely removing especially flammable shrubs, such as juniper.
Normally, to recycle the brush you remove, you must either haul material to a recycling center, use your residential green-waste recycling cart or, for larger waste volumes, rent a recycling bin from the same company providing your curbside residential waste collection service. For a fee, you can drop-off yard clippings to be turned into mulch at Agromin’s site at Ormond Beach (805-485-9200); Peach Hill Soils near Moorpark (80529-6164); or Agromin’s site at the Simi Valley Landfill (805-485-9200). Gold Coast Recycling, in Ventura, and Del Norte Recycling, in Oxnard, transfer to these recyclers. The Ojai Valley Organics Recycling Center is currently closed, but a permit application is in process for a resumption of operations.
With the Ojai drop-off center closed, the Ojai Valley is especially in need of locally convenient recycling options for material generated by brush clearance. Fortunately, The Concerned Resource and Environmental Workers, known as The CREW, a nonprofit organization, is offering four drop off days at the former Honor Farm, and 10 curbside chipping days, where workers with a chipper will travel to homes and turn yard clippings to mulch on site.
They also offer free brush clearance service for low-income seniors, veterans and disabled residents. With a grant from the California Fire Safe Council, through the Ventura County Resource Conservation District, the CREW will serve homes from Foster Park to east Ojai.
The CREW can handle logs up to 6 inches in diameter, but they ask residents to keep palms, ivy, and yucca separate, as those items cannot be chipped. For details and sign ups, go to www. thecrew.org/firesafety or call 805-649-8847.
The California Fire Safe Council is also the source of funding for a free curbside chipping event to be offered by the Central Ventura Fire Safe Council on June 20 in the Hitch Road neighborhood near Moorpark. 
Sign up for collection at www.cvcfiresafe.org. The local Council will later offer chipper days in other locations including Somis, Fillmore, Ventura, Santa Paula and Piru over this summer and next year as well. Additionally, they are working with a local HOA in Moorpark on a fuel reduction project. All projects have been identified by the Ventura County Fire Department, Wildland Division as well as the Ventura City and Fillmore City Fire Departments as “high fire risk areas of the wildland urban interface.”
Besides removing brush and fuel sources, residents should take additional steps to prepare their home and property to survive the next wildfire. For example, check your rain gutters, which can trap flying embers.
Keep rain guttersfreeofleaves,needles and debris.
Combustible materials should also be kept off porches, decks and other areas of the home. Flammable items sometimes kept in these areas include baskets, dried flower arrangements, newspapers, pine needles and debris.
The underside of decks should be enclosed with fire-resistant materials and the eaves of a home, which can trap hot air and gases, should be covered with a soffit, or “boxed in.” Homes become more fire resistant with cover materials, or with noncombustible siding, such as stucco, brick and cement board.
Windows are one of the weakest parts of a home and usually break before the structure ignites. Consider installing double-glazed or tempered glass windows. Vinyl framed windows are more flammable. Vents on homes are potential entry points for flying embers. All vent openings need to be covered with 1/8” or smaller wire mesh. It is best not use fiberglass or plastic mesh because they can melt or burn.
If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Firewise USA (wwww.Firewise.org) or Central Ventura County Fire Safe Council for Assistance www.cvcfiresafe.org 805-746-7365). For more tips, review Ready, Set, GO! (https://www.fire.ca.gov/ resources/cal-fire-contacts/) to prepare preventative steps.
— Elaine Himelfarb is executive director of the Central Ventura County Fire Safe Council and can be reached at ehimelfarb@ cvcfiresafe.org.
—David Goldstein is an Environmental Resource Analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..