If any Ashlanders are on the fence about being prepared to evacuate in case of a major fire threatening the city, they have only to look south to Redding. The Carr fire, started by a spark from a steel wheel rim on a trailer towed with a flat tire, has destroyed nearly 1,500 structures, 1,000 of them homes.
The blaze roared through entire neighborhoods in Redding, creating its own tornado-like circular winds as it went. Six people lost their lives.
Think it can’t happen here? Think again.
The city encroaches on the Ashland Watershed, and while a great deal of fuel-reduction work has been done to make the watershed more fire-resistant, it is not possible to fire-proof any forest. By the same token, the much-discussed wildfire prevention ordinance might lessen the risk of catastrophic fire, but could not remove it entirely.
City leaders have come in for some pointed criticism for their decision to put off adopting the new ordinance, which would expand the wildfire hazard zone to encompass the entire city, impose fire-safe requirements on new construction and enact new restrictions on what vegetation could be planted and its proximity to structures. But even if the ordinance had been adopted as written earlier this month, it couldn’t have had any appreciable effect on fire danger this summer.
Long-term, making residential neighborhoods less susceptible to fire makes sense. Short-term, residents should make sure they are prepared if a major fire prompts evacuation orders. Tips on readiness were in Tuesday’s Daily Tidings.