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Burn Safely This Winter

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Sonora, CA– During the last week of January, Cal Fire’s Tuolumne/Calaveras Unit responded to several escaped debris burns.

These fires threatened surrounding properties, and subjected people who started the fires to fines, and the cost of damages and suppression.

Cal Fire’s Fire Specialist Nancy Longmore says foothill residents and property owners need to remember that wildfires in the Mother Lode can happen year-round.  She says before burning  it’s very important to check the burn day status, and to obtain any burn permits required.

“We need to remember to burn safely. Make sure you have clearance around your fires so that you minimize the chances that it will escape, and work on that defensible space because fire season is coming,” said Longmore.

Residents should make their property fire safe with 100 feet of defensible space around all structures. Winter and early spring is a good time to do this work, when you can dispose of the brush, limbs, and other trimmings in burn piles.

Longmore also says to avoid burning piles of needles and leaves this time of year.

“They create much more smoke than is worth it for the small amount of needles and leaves that you burn. Right now when they have any moisture in them, they just make a nasty smoky mess that will inundate an entire neighborhood with smoke. For the sake of air quality for everybody, wait to burn needles and leaves until they’re completely dryed out later in the year.”

For more information about defensible space requirements, as well as safe burning practices, visit

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