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Two Human Errors Sparking Fires In Mother Lode

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Sonora, CA – Just this morning, alarms sounded for a reported vegetation fire in the Valley Springs area and once on scene crews discovered an illegal debris burn.

CAL Fire Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit spokesperson Emily Kilgore wants to remind residents, “Even though we’re having cooler weather, people feel that they can go collect defensible space piles and debris burn, this is not the time as burn permits are still suspended.”

While the timing can vary from year to year and just a few years ago burning restrictions lasted all the way through January, Kilgore conveys that several factors are considered when CAL Fire makes the decision to lift restrictions. They include staffing levels, incident activity within the unit and throughout the state and weather.

While burn permits are issued for two-years, up until April 30th of the second year, Kilgore relays that it is up to the holder to make sure whether it is a burn day. One easy way to do that is to go to the where burn day information is listed on the home page and updated daily.

Another human error in igniting vegetation fires is hot ashes. Kilgore cautions there have been about a dozen of these types of blazes over the past month and a half. With Fall upon us, more people are firing up their wood stoves and fireplaces and discarding the ashes outside. She cautions, “Throwing them out in the yard and thinking the cooler temperatures will take care of those hot ashes will, in fact, put them into an environment that has more oxygen and a dry fuel bed. That has caused small fires in the vegetation by homes.”

To ensure your ashes are cold before discarding them, Kilgore offers these tips:

  • Make sure they are disposed of in a metal can with a lid.
  • The container should be placed away from any flammable source outside.
  • The ashes should not be thrown out until they are cool to the touch with a bare hand.
  • Illegal debris burn
  • Dumped ashes that ignited a vegetation fire