By Theresa-Marie Wilson

Fire season in California starts earlier and ends later each year. According to Cal Fire, thus far statewide in 2021, close to 4000 acres have burned, stations have responded to 1546 incidents and as of April 28 there were five still active fires.

There will be a free public chipping event in Los Osos for residents to reduce the fire fuel load around their homes on May 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fairchild Way between Los Olivos and Santa Ynez.

“I want Los Osos neighbors to know that we are surrounded by public lands both state and county owned,” said Emily Miggins, event coordinator and Fire Safety Council Los Osos representative. “These lands are very dry and combustible if the opportunity arises with the right wind conditions and an illegal warming fire, [a not fully extinguished] cigarette butt, firecrackers, or sparks created by everyday mechanical equipment, unfortunately, we could see a large scale fire in our community.

“Both CAL Fire and Cal Poly have estimated 4-6 tons dead dry biomass on our public lands as is the case with Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve and the County owned sewer mitigation property at Broderson trail. Due to various endangered species protections the state and county have not allowed routine maintenance on our public land to create fuel breaks for our homes and firefighters.”

Generally fire stations across the state warn that it is not a matter of if we will have a large-scale fire, but when. State law requires that people clear out flammable materials such as brush or vegetation around their buildings to 100 feet or the property line to create a defensible space or buffer.

Folks can bring material to the event to be offloaded by personnel on site. Branches must be no larger than 6 inches in diameter. No soil, rock or construction material (treated or untreated) will be accepted. Attendees are asked to follow CDC guidelines for COVID-19 protection.

“This Fire Safe Council funded chipping event with the Los Osos Community Service District and Station 15 is a terrific opportunity to reduce fuel loads around our homes,” Miggins said. “It takes the people and homeowners of Los Osos to help each other get the work done. I am asking everyone to pitch in – in a COVID safe way to help your neighbors move wood materials to our chipping event. Do you have a pickup truck, a horse trailer, or a box truck to help your neighbors clear brush around their homes to be chipped? If you do, let’s get busy talking to our community and preparing materials to be chipped and composted and moved out of our town. Let’s come together and make our community more prepared and fire safe.”

For more information, check out LOS OSOS FIRE & Emergency Preparedness or FSCSLO.org.