Wildfire season arrives in Northeastern California

Every year around this time, the temperature rises, the humidity falls and the hot winds blows across our region leading to Red Flag Warnings. Yes, it’s wildfire season, and all calamity needs is an errant spark or a dry lightning strike.

Close to home, the Klamathon Fire crossed the Oregon California border Sunday. The blaze has killed one resident, razed 72 structures, injured three firefighters and threatens hundreds more homes as it’s already blackened more than 30,000 acres, leading to a disaster declaration from California Governor Jerry Brown as more than a dozen fires rage across the state. Thankfully, local fires have not erupted into infernos.

Smoke from wildfires can harm your health. Airnow.gov advises residents to use common sense when there’s smoke in the air — not a good time for working or playing outdoors or for athletic competitions. Residents should pay special attention to local air quality reports, smoke-related news coverage of health warnings.

When the smoke level is high, avoid using items that burn, including candles. And don’t vacuum — that stirs up particles that are already in your home.

It’s OK to run your air conditioner during a fire, but make sure the fresh air intake is closed and the filter is clean. You don’t want to bring more smoke inside your home.

If there’s a serious smoke event, contact you doctor if you have heart or lung disease.
Ready.gov provides wildfire safety tips.

Residents are advised to maintain their lawn and remove combustible debris from around their homes. Clean the area around your home of leaves, dead vegetation and other debris to reduce the fuel load.

Obviously, you don’t want to burn or use any mechanical device that may create sparks on dry and windy days.

If you must evacuate, roll up car windows and close air vents. Smoke from a fire can irritate your eyes and respiratory system.

The American Red Cross also provides fire safety tips.

Install smoke alarms at every level of your home, as well as in bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. A smoke alarm cuts your risk of dying in a fire nearly in half. If a fire breaks out in your home, you may have as little as two minutes to escape. Test your smoke alarms every month to ensure they’re still working. If a fire starts, get out, stay out and call for help.

The Red Cross also advises residents to consider home fire sprinkler systems, now required on new home construction in Lassen County. Sprinklers can put out a fire when you’re not at home, and if they are connected to an alarm system, may notify the fire department. In addition, the Red Cross recommends at least one fire extinguisher in every home. Residents are advised to get training from the fire department or the fire extinguisher manufacturer. There is no time to read instructions during an emergency.

According to the Red Cross, “If you try to use a fire extinguisher on a fire, and the fire does not immediately die down, drop the extinguisher and get out. Most portable fire extinguishers empty in eight seconds.”

It’s fire season — be fire safe.