East Bay residents, landscaping crews prepare for grass fire season

Bay Area

FREMONT (KRON) — Grass fire season has arrived and the sound of weed-wackers and other weed abatement measures can be heard across the Bay Area as homeowners are heeding warnings about creating defensible space.

Robert Newmeyer and his weed abatement solutions crew are clearing waist-high grass from a hillside off Mission Boulevard in Fremont.

They’re clearing the grass back 100 feet from the homes to create a defensible space.

Newmeyer says he can hardly keep up with the demand from property owners who want to minimize their exposure to the very real threat of wildfire.

“We’re doing 30 foot fire breaks here and clearing a defensible space 100 feet from those homes down there,” he said.

In San Jose, a crew from the Santa Clara Valley Water District is clearing the grass from along Penitencia Creek.

Just across the road, a fire forced the evacuation of the Silicon Valley Wildlife Center summer before last.

Director Laura Hawkins showed KRON4 where the grass is knee-high after being cut once already this spring.

“We always need to be prepared and part of that is doing this weed abatement, it’s essential,” she said. “We know that fire can jump roads so I don’t think we have to be ready for that possibility.”

Calfire says this years grass crop is 3-5 times as dense as it is in a typical year.

There have already been numerous grass fires across the region. One property owner took action after her neighbors complained.

Going forward, should a fire occur nearby, Newmeyer says that 100 foot clearance will give firefighters a chance to save both her and her neighbors homes.

“We’ve had so much rain this year that the thistles are 15 feet tall and the annual grasses are as high as 7 feet tall, they’re very flammable, it’s just real dense this year,” he said.

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