Editorial: Fire season is coming

It’s never too early to talk about fire safety, especially in Ashland.
Spring is in the air, trees and shrubs are in bloom and rain is falling — for now. Before long, the rain will be a distant memory and vegetation will dry out, creating ideal conditions for wildfire.
Wildfire season in recent years has meant heavy smoke in the valley from fires in the mountains. But Ashland, situated as it is just below the Ashland Watershed, is at especially high risk for the kind of devastating fire that swept through California communities last year.
The Alarm Box column in today’s Tidings contributed by Ashland Fire Rescue addresses this issue and specifically the need to change building standards for new construction to limit vulnerability to fire.
Ashland Fire & Rescue and the Wildfire Mitigation Commission are proposing expanding the Wildfire Hazard Zone to encompass the entire city. The existing zone includes the hills above town.
Expanding the zone would outlaw the use of wood shake roofing and flammable landscaping on new construction or remodels that expand a building’s footprint by more than 200 square feet. Other changes may be in the works as well, if the State Fire Code changes.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone. Officials first proposed a city-wide hazard zone in 2014. The issue came up again in 2016. It’s now 2018 — and the danger of catastrophic fire has not abated. If anything, it has increased.
This matter cannot wait another two years.

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