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If you have a question that you feel might be of general interest, please submit it via e-mail to info@lwwa.org 

What if all of my phone services go out during an emergency?
Being without phone service is risky during times of elevated concern.
Consider the following ideas:
  1. Consider relocating to a family or friend’s home until your service is restored.
  2. Have one or more neighborhood call buddies that will knock on your door if they don’t get through.  These should be close neighbors.  Tell them your phone service is out when it happens so they are aware of it before a possible emergency.
  3. Have your land line and cell service on different carriers.
What should I do if I smell smoke?
1.   Check the Nevada County Dashboard to see if a fire is being monitored. Make sure this link has been used on your device.  It’s easily searched using the keyword, ‘dashboard’ at  https://nevcounty.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=dfae8e3b36e3455bbf9dcc865349e72e
2.  Check Yuba Net. A local website that provides the county with the most up to date information on a variety of topics.
3.    Is there is a haze of smoke all over or is it coming from a specific direction?

a.    If it’s hazy all over and the dashboard shows no fire, check the air quality conditions on the dashboard.
b.    If it’s coming from nearby or very close to your home and you see flames, call 911. Also call 911 first, not Lake Wildwood Security. Can you determine if it’s a structure fire or a vegetation fire? Let 911 know.
c.    If it’s coming from nearby and you see or hear fire engines coming, do not call security or 911 unless it presents an immediate danger to you or your home.  Be aware of first responders and cooperate with their instructions.

Why are there helicopters or planes circling overhead?
There are resources available to learn a lot on your own on these occasions. If a lot of people call Lake Wildwood security for answers, they may be overwhelmed with calls.  Try some of these web sites and sources… Security will be trying to do the same to determine what is happening. Do NOT call Lake Wildwood Security until you have attempted to learn more about the situation using these resources.

Check Flightradar24, which shows air traffic in our area.  Here is a link to the specific quadrant for our area. https://www.flightradar24.com/39.23,-121.17/12 Click on any moving aircraft.  It will show you if it is Cal Fire (Usually White and Red), or another type of air traffic.

Whether it’s Cal Fire or not, the next step is Yubanet.com, Happening now https://yubanet.com/featured/now. Yubanet is often attuned to new emergency events, or non-emergency things that seem like emergencies (like Helicopters doing line checks)

If you are a Facebook user, try the Nevada County Incident Information, or Nevada County Happening now pages can be very informative.

If you do not find answers from these sources, try the local emergency radio station, KVMR 89.5fm. Often, an emergency will be announced on the local radio.

The Office of Emergency Services – OES- now has a Dashboard for emergency situations. There is a link to it on The Lake Wildwood Web site home page.  And a link here to bookmark. https://nevcounty.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=dfae8e3b36e3455bbf9dcc865349e72e

If the emergency is close to Lake Wildwood, the Association has the ability to send e-blast emails.

Be ready to receive information in all kinds of ways, including your phone.

What is Defensible Space?
In the 1980’s, the term “defensible space” was coined to describe vegetation management practices aimed at reducing wildfire threat to homes. Defensible Space refers to areas between the house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been modified to reduce the wildfire threat and provides a better opportunity for fire fighters to defend the home.

How big is an effective defensible space?
California state law requires 100 feet of clearance around a home. In Lake Wildwood, we often have other homes much closer to ours than 100 feet. While we are protecting our own home, we are often protecting another, and their efforts protect ours. In many cases, we also might have a common area within our 100 feet, or our lot may border a property outside of Lake Wildwood. Newer protocols for establishing defensible space suggest that there are three zones. The first is 0-5’ from your home (decks and attached structures are the inner perimeters of this space). Then, there is the 5-30 ‘space, then the 100’. Slopes within these spaces can affect how mitigation is accomplished.

What is the relationship between vegetation and wildfire threat?
Not all the plants growing on your property present a threat and some can be helpful. Trees help keep the surface cool when their canopy is green. Some green ‘Fire-wise’ plants in the understory can slow the spread of flames with their moisture, if they are well maintained and watered. Some native, or low-growing evergreen broadleaf plants can keep the area cool and resist flames if they are watered or retain moisture. Trees native to our area, such as Oaks and Ponderosa pines, and introduced Redwoods are not highly flammable and can help keep the area around your home cooler. These trees should be limbed up but can be an important part of the landscape. A Defensible Space Advisor can help you with determining which plants add value and which need mitigation.

Are there any special requirements with trees?
Yes. In Lake Wildwood, you will need to contact the Environmental Management Office (EMO) if there is a need to remove any tree over 8” in diameter, at 4’ above its base. This may be necessary if the tree is too close to the house or over-hanging, or if trees are spaced too closely. Trees less than 8” can be removed without EMO permits.

Does Defensible Space require a lot of bare ground around a house?
No. Bare ground does not always provide effective defensible space. In a wind-driven ember fire, a home surrounded by bare dirt can still burst into flames. In the July 2006 Sawtooth fire north of Palm Springs, homes with more than 100ft of bare dirt clearance burst into flames. When done well, ‘cleared’ defensible space should still include plants and trees with some separation of bare ground.

Does creating defensible space require any special skills, knowledge, or equipment?
A first step is always to have a Defensible Space Advisory Visit. Get an idea of what needs to be done. Unless a homeowner has experience or specialized training, tree removal or trimming that requires climbing is best left to professionals. However, removing limbs from the lower 10’ of some trees is relatively easy. Removing some flammable or hazardous shrubs such as junipers or oleanders can be hard work without the right tools and equipment. Consider professional assistance. A handy homeowner with the right tools might be able to remove a great deal of hazardous foliage from their property.  And, in Nevada County, there might be an opportunity to dispose of resultant green waste for free at special events! Watch this web site and e-blasts for news about this. Be aware of nesting birds, habitat plants and seasonal wildlife needs. Also, working around plants, everyone should be aware of potential dangers, including poison oak and rattlesnakes.

When is the best time of year to work on your defensible space?
Your defensible space should be maintained year-round. October-December is typically the most horticulturally sound time of year to prune and clear and avoid active nesting season. There are many other factors to consider when working with wildland interfaces. Local Native plant specialists, and the local Master Gardener groups can be helpful with tips for maintaining local insect and amphibious communities.

Does having defensible space make a difference?
Studies and analysis of previous wildfires have shown that defensible space, along with home hardening (e.g., non-flammable roof and vent screen modification) are more times likely to survive a wildfire than those without a defensible space.

Here are two local examples of defensible space making a difference in our area:

Jones Fire – Homes in the Tasha Rd. area that had done defensible space work were saved.

49er fire – A home on Highgrader Rd. in Rough and Ready survived both the 49er fire and the Lobo fire  https://www.theunion.com/news/local-news/surviving-the-fires-one-familys-story-of-how-they-avoided-disaster-twice/

Does having defensible space guarantee my house will survive a wildfire?
No. Home are being lost in wildfires because of wind-blown embers from miles away, not necessarily because of overgrown trees and vegetation near homes. But having defensible space will improve the odds of your home surviving a wildfire when done in combination with other fire safety measures like home-hardening.

What are the most effective steps I can take to make my property defensible?
Research shows that the most effective steps to prevent homes from burning involve incorporating fire-safe features on buildings (e.g., roofing materials and vent screens). Remember that many times a home with defensible space will burn if attic and foundation screens allow embers to get inside. Make sure your vents have 1/8 screening material or “Vulcan Vents”. Be sure there are no dry leaves on your roof or in uncovered gutters. Also, be sure that no flammable material is stored near the house. Wood piles should be 30’ away or covered with a California certified fire-retardant tarp.  Wood fences should not touch the house. Defensible Space Advisors will also give you tips on home hardening when they advise about defensible space.

What am I required to do in the 10’ space in front of my home to the road?
In Lake Wildwood, that space is common area.  Depending on your location, the Fuel Management Operations (FMO), will come to clear that area of all vegetation at some point. If you are on a main evacuation route, they will come sooner.  If you are on a side street or circle, they will come later.  Clearing that area of flammable vegetation will make your escape route safer for you and other people on your street.  You can choose to ‘Opt Out’ of the FMO clearing and landscape that area to your liking before they get there.  See Roadside Clearance for more details.

What is the best landscaping to have within the 1st 5 feet of my home?
Experts in defensible space are leaning toward the idea of ‘nothing flammable within 5’ of the home. This is a huge change from what people are used to. See article “Editing your Existing Landscape for Defensible Space” under the Creating Safer Landscape tab for suggestions.

What are the best plants to use within the 5-30’ defensible space around my house in Lake Wildwood?
See the list of plants that are Fire Wise and ‘mostly’ deer resistant in Lake Wildwood on the website under Creating Safer Landscape.

What plants should I NOT plant in my 0-30’ defensible space around my house in Lake Wildwood?
See the list of Hazardous Vegetation on the website under Creating Safer Landscape that have been determined by various Fire Safety organizations to be highly flammable and not advised near homes.

If I have a Defensible Space Advisory Visit set up through the Fire Safe Council, am I held accountable for accomplishing all the recommended improvements?
No. The Defensible Space Advisory Visits DSAV set up through the Fire Safe Council are for ADVICE only. Records are kept of these visits, but only to record volunteer time to support grant funding. The Defensible Space Advisor that performs the visit may point out some situations that violate current ordinances. But it’s up to you to voluntarily mitigate them.

What is a Fire Wise Neighborhood Group?
Lake Wildwood Neighbors working together to prepare themselves and their homes for a fire evacuation order.

What does a Fire Wise Neighborhood Group do?
Neighbors have face-to-face or virtual meetings to learn about how to make your home safer from fire, how to prepare for a safe evacuation, and how to help more vulnerable neighbors evacuate safely.

How can I find out if there’s a Fire Wise Neighborhood Group near me?
Send an email to firewise@lwwa.org to find out if there’s a group near you. If there is not, it’s very easy to start a new group.

How do you get phones registered to receive an evacuation warning or evacuation notice? 
Code Red is an alert system Nevada County uses to inform citizens of local emergencies.  Go to CodeRed to register or dial 211 for personal assistance.

What should I put in my Go Bag?
A list of items to include in your “Go Bag” can be found in the “Be Fire Wise” section of the lwa.org website under the “Neighbors Working Together” tab.  Look for a reference link in the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Where can I get an evacuation tag?
Check with the Association Office, the local Penn Valley Fire Stations (front gate station or 10513 Spenceville Road), or the Office of Emergency Services  for Nevada County at (530) 265-1515.

Where can I get an evacuation map?
Residents can pick up an evacuation map in Member Services. It is also available on the Resident's website in both the Be Fire Wise and Emergency Preparedness sections, which can be downloaded and printed, preferable on 11x17 paper.

Does Lake Wildwood allow burning of yard waste?
The simple answer is yes.  However there are restrictions.

You MUST verify that it is a permissive burn day. You can call (530) 274-7928.
Only dry, natural vegetative material may be burned. Burning of leaves, pine needles and grass clipping is prohibited. The burning of trash, painted wood or other debris is not allowed.
Smoke should be kept at a minimum.

Do NOT burn on windy days.
  • Piles should be no larger than four (4) feet in diameter and in height. You can add to your pile as it burns down.
  • Clear a 10-foot diameter down to bare soil around your piles.
  • Always have a shovel and a water source nearby.
  • An adult is required to be in attendance of the fire at all times.
Cal Fire has an excellent video that can be found using the following link:

  • What is the proper way to store gasoline?
  • Use only approved metal or plastic gasoline containers.
  • Do not store containers in a vehicle or a living space.
  • Store containers in well-ventilated areas
  • Keep containers away from flames, pilot lights, stoves, heaters electric motors and other sources of ignition. Vapors can be ignited by a spark or flame source many feet away.
  • Keep containers closed
  • Don’t smoke near gas containers
  • Keep containers out of reach of children
The biggest issue is fumes escaping the container. The liquid itself is stable. If the temperature goes up so does the off gassing, which is what produces the vapors.