FILE — The River Fire burns thousands of acres south of Salinas in August 2020. Officials are predicting another strong wildfire season this year. (Tony Nuñez/Staff)

MONTEREY COUNTY — With the one-year anniversary of the start of both the Carmel and River fires, where more than 100 structures were lost and many acres of property burned, officials from around the county discussed fire safety at an Aug. 25 media briefing.

“I’d like to remind everybody that we have factors involved with both of those fires that we can prepare for even if we can’t predict when those fires are going to start,” said Dorothy Priolo, deputy fire marshal, Monterey County Regional Fire District.

Priolo’s first tip was to continue to maintain a defensible space around homes, doing things like trimming trees and mowing down weeds.

“If a fire were to start in your neighborhood, your home would be able to withstand the exposure to that fire,” Priolo said about defensive measures.

Priolo noted during the Carmel and River fires that there were several instances of unpredictable fire behavior, where some homes were spared while others burned, and the ones that were completely destroyed typically had a lack of defensive space.

“Even if it’s not desirable to do this work, it is important, especially in our rural areas on the hillsides and upper wooded areas,” Priolo said.

Second, Priolo advised residents to have their property secured and personal belongings needed in the event of evacuation are ready to go. Those would include records, important documents and medications.

Priolo said information on fire safety and prevention is available on their website,

“That provides guidelines on how to create that defensible space as well as prepare your family in the event of an evacuation,” Priolo said.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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