Ten years ago, a wildfire gobbled up a eucalyptus grove and threatened a neighborhood on the slope of Mount Tamalpais, causing gridlock and striking fear for residents. By the time the 2004 Mother’s Day Fire was over, 12 acres had burned and homeowners in Mill Valley had a new appreciation for emergency preparedness and defensible space around their homes.
On May 6, three days before the 10th anniversary of that fire, the Marin County Board of Supervisors plan to proclaim the week of May 4-10 as Wildfire Awareness Week to increase attention to the threat of significant wildfires in the county. As Marin and the rest of California experiences drought conditions, the awareness is more urgent than ever.
Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber has vivid memories of the Mother’s Day Fire because he was working that day as an emergency dispatcher. It took firefighters in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area about five hours to control the blaze.
“The Mother’s Day fire reminded residents across the county that wildfires do in fact occur in our generally peaceful and bucolic setting,” Weber said. “The nature that surrounds us is beautiful and one of the big reasons we live here, but it’s also fuel for wildfires.”
As a reminder during Wildfire Awareness Week, residents are being asked to exercise fire-safe behavior at all times and to alert emergency personnel anytime they see fire or smoke in open space areas. Preparation for a fire is key to survival and limiting the extent of fire damage.
The Ready, Set, Go wildfire action plan is an excellent source of information. It directs readers to do three simple things: Create defensible space around their home, “harden” their home to protect it from flying embers, and develop a family disaster plan.
“During a major fire, personnel and equipment will be stretched to the limit, so we need residents to prepare their property and themselves,” said Battalion Chief Mike Giannini of the Marin County Fire Department. “When residents take the steps recommended by Ready, Set, Go, they give us a fighting chance to save homes and lives.”
As part of Wildfire Awareness Week, the Supervisors urge all residents of Marin to heed important safety messages and support the efforts of Marin’s fire and emergency services.