We were out of state visiting family when we heard about the Trailhead Fire. When it first came to our attention I think it was less than 100 acres. But it was in a remote and steep river canyon, exactly the type of terrain where wildfires grow very quickly. More importantly, it was just five miles from our house. Before we knew it, the fire had consumed 300 acres, then 500. By the time we got home the very next day, it had burned 1,000 acres and had 1,928 firefighters assigned to it.
Unfortunately, in the last several years we had let our property become badly overgrown (I’d been working 80-100 hours per week for the past four years, but that’s another story). What that meant fire-wise was that we had let the amount of ground-level fuel (tall grass, low branches, shrubs, etc.) increase almost exponentially. While I had started creating a defensible space around the house this year, I hadn’t even finished that, much less started the enormous task of trying to make the entire property more fire safe. And to make matters worse, as I mentioned my post about tearing down our old fence (F___ You, Fence!), I’d just left all of the wood fencing on the ground more or less where it fell. That was just more fuel for a fire, and relatively close to the house too.
Since I wanted to clear much of the property for my trail anyway, this seemed like the perfect time. During the next three weeks, I spent as much time as possible making our property more fire safe by removing an enormous number of low hanging branches from dozens and dozens of trees, as well as weedwhacking all of the tall grass closest to the house.
The fire burned for almost three weeks and consumed 5,646 acres before it was finally declared 100% contained. Although it threatened 2,600 structures according to CalFire’s Trailhead Fire incident page, I don’t believe that any structures were actually destroyed.
Huge kudos and heartfelt thanks to all of the firefighters! And I got quite a bit of my trail corridor cleared too. 🙂