Cal Fire: Defensible space helped save homes from Flat Fire

News

Some homeowners in Fresno County had a frightening Saturday when a fire raged right next to their homes. Fire crews worked quick to make sure flames didn’t reach homes, but the homeowners also helped in the effort.

The fire burned around 70 acres right off Oak Flat Lane and Shady Oaks Road. It was last reported to be 20-percent contained. Reports of the fire first came in a little before 2:30 p.m., with Cal Fire engines arriving within minutes.

Victoria Orange lives nearby, but her mother’s home was one of the ones threatened by the fire. She first heard of it after a phone call.

“[My mom] called me and said that her neighbor’s property was on fire,” Orange said. She adds her mother then said it was going up the hill near her.

Orange quickly rushed over and got to work, wetting down the grasses around her mother’s property.

Along with the fire engines, Cal Fire also has multiple air units dropping fire retardant and water as the fire continued to burn. As it crept onto the hillside, the more challenging the fight against the fire became.

The weather also made things difficult.

“High temperatures and low humidity provided for a good fire spread quickly,” said battalion chief Dennis Smith.

Smith adds each homeowner’s defensible space really helped keep the fire from reaching any of the homes. He said any of the homes could have easily been lost without it.

Orange agrees, saying defensible space is necessary for anyone to live in this part of Fresno County.

“That means you lose or keep your home, plain and simple,” said Orange.

Cal Fire had an ambulance on standby throughout the day in case of any injuries. A firefighter was taken to the hospital for an unknown injury, but Smith said he’s doing fine.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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