Winter Wildfires Still A Danger

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Many residents of the Virginia Foothills subdivision say it's not a question of "if," but rather "when" a fire will rip through. Neighbors have been helping each other clear around their homes for sometime, but they say the job was just too big.

Larry Thomsen has lived in the Foothills subdivision for almost 20 years...and he knows his neighborhood is due for a fire.

"We worry all the time. We could see that fire over in the Galena area. We could see it right from our house."

He's cleared most of the fuels in his own backyard, but these old wild horse trails between his home and the the neighbors have long been ignored.

"It's in a no-man's land. It doesn't belong to me, it doesn't belong to him, and now the fire department is here coming through to help us out."

Crews with the Sierra Fire Protection District are clearing out that no-man's land...these 13 easements in the subdivision. They say the Virginia Foothills are in an extreme fire danger area...and even though the weather is growing colder, the dry fuels and wooden fences could act like a wick, if just one spark were to ignite.

"It's thick. There's trash and there's a high potential with the power lines arching that there could be a brush fire, even in the wintertime," said Kelti Puryear, with the SFPD.

Thomsen says he's seen little rain this year..and most of it just soaked into the dry even though the official fire season is over...he can recall destructive blazes that sparked well after the summer months were gone.

"It's just as dry now as it ever was and the potential is just as high," said Thomsen.

Thomsen says he's happy to finally see some progress in his neighborhood, and even happier to know his home is being protected.

"We've been here a long time. We want to stay here. We've got the view, we've got the mountains that are pretty, but we want them safe too."