Prevent another Croy Fire

No one wants a repeat of the hellish nightmare that was last
September’s Croy wildfire.
No one wants a repeat of the hellish nightmare that was last September’s Croy wildfire. That’s why we applaud the move by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to send inspectors to the area west of Morgan Hill and Gilroy that the blaze devastated.

The inspectors’ first goal is education: teaching residents how to prevent fires like the one last year that was sparked by an unpermitted solar power system. That small spark led to a blaze that burned more than 3,000 acres, destroyed 34 homes, damaged 100 buildings, and cost nearly $9 million to extinguish.

“Most people in violation are willing to help, it’s simply a case that they are not informed of the regulations,” CDF Spokesman Chris Morgan told reporter Zeb Carabello. “Providing information is how you prevent fires, save homes and save lives.”

We’re glad that inspectors will first educate residents on regulations that are in place and very necessary for residents’ own safety, as well as that of their neighbors and community; that vegetation removal is key to saving homes should another fire break out; and that obtaining permits for homes and additions is important so public safety officials know where people and buildings are and so that insurance coverage can be obtained.

We’re also glad to hear that inspectors will follow their educational visits with checks to make sure that any problems noted have been corrected. Anyone out of compliance will be fined to motivate them to correct problems so that they don’t put themselves, their neighbors and firefighters at undue risk.

Meanwhile, we’d like to encourage Santa Clara County to create a fast-track permitting process for Croy fire victims. Anyone who was burned out of their home should have a way to quickly and inexpensively obtain the needed permits to rebuild or repair their dwellings. The same fast track should apply to anyone trying to bring a previously unpermitted structure into compliance with county regulations.

Besides destroying dozens of homes, last year’s Croy wildfire threatened 300 other homes, and caused the evacuations of 200 of those dwellings.

As a community – residents, fire officials, county administration – let’s work together to prevent that kind of danger and disruption in the future. That means inspections, enforcement and efficient permitting processes.