June 21, 2018

Monte Nido Fire Safe Council Seminars on Fire Safety


As in Topanga, the neighboring unincorporated community of Monte Nido is making its community safer before a wildland fire threatens. With help from a 2014 grant received by Mountains Restoration Trust from the Community Assistance Program of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the National Park Service (NPS) through the California Fire Safe Council, the Monte Nido Fire Safe Council (MNFSC) educates local community members and stakeholders through a series of seminars and workshops.

Last spring, two seminars held at the Saddle Peak Lodge featured lectures presented by fire science experts from NPS, Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACFD), and Wildfire Information Consulting of Orange County.

During the first seminar, attendees learned about local fire behavior, history and ecology. The second seminar focused on creating an ember-resistant home ignition zone. Residents were surprised to learn that 80 to 90 percent of all homes burned during wind-driven wildfires were ignited by embers.

“A homeowner can do a lot to harden a home against embers whether it be covering house vents with eighth-inch mesh metal screens to moving any combustible material away from the house. Any action—big or small—performed before a fire threatens can help prevent a home from burning during the next wildfire,” said Cliff Hunter, retired Fire Marshall of the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District, Orange County, and owner of the Wildfire Information Consulting firm. Two upcoming workshops will focus on the home ignition zones. Attendees will learn more from a trained assessor about key items that help protect the home from embers. The second workshop will also feature vendors who specialize in fire safe materials. A third seminar, to be held in the early fall at the Saddle Peak Lodge, will cover ornamental and wildland vegetation.

With help from the LACFD and NPS, several Monte Nido locations are identified where flammable, non-native eucalyptus trees may help spread wildfire or block evacuation routes.

Eucalyptus trees, known by fire experts to become “flaming candles” that shower embers and burning bark during wind-driven wildfires cover an entire slope on protected open space near northern Cold Canyon Road.

Ecologists say these invasive trees inhibit the growth of native vegetation, provide no food or cover for wildlife, and compete with native oak trees for soil moisture. After careful removal in the early winter of 2014, native vegetation will return to this slope helping reduce community fire danger.

A second location where several flammable eucalyptus trees will be removed is located on private property. This area lines an important evacuation route that residents will use to flee while firefighters enter. This property owner is proud to be able to make the community a safer place.

The Monte Nido Fire Safe Council is comprised of Monte Nido community neighbors working together to mobilize the Monte Nido Community into action in order to protect homes, community, and the environment from wildfire.

For more information or to join, please contact Jo Powe at jopowe@gmail.com or Mountains Restoration Trust at (818) 591-1701, Ext. 0.