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Fire District issues community safety alert

Officials warn residents to avoid cutting weeds during high temperatures, low humidity

Officials from the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District are encouraging residents to employ preventative measures to avoid starting a wildfire.

Homeowners are already taking steps to create defensible space by cutting down native dry grasses/weeds, limbing up trees and installing fire breaks to protect their homes and firefighters. Still, performing these routine maintenance items at the wrong time of day or with inproper equipment can be harmful.

"Wile these efforts can greatly reduce the risk of wildfire, residents also need to be aware that cutting dry grass at the wrong time of day or with the wrong equipment can actually start a fire," a release stated. "San Ramon Valley Firefighters have responded to two such fires in the past few days."

Lack of rain, extremely dry vegetation, low humidity and strong winds make fire season especially severe this year. District officials offer residents the following tips to avoid sparking fires:

* Check the weather before starting any weed abatement project. If the temperature is high, winds are strong or humidity is low, consider choosing another day.

* Never attempt an abatement project during a red flag warning day.

* Always mow or cut weeds before 10 a.m. when moisture levels are highest.

* Always use tools that are made for cutting weeds; lawn mowers are for lawns not tall dry grass.

* Insure you have a large container of water or a fire extinguisher with you while you are cutting dry grass or weeds.

* Consider hiring a professional weed abatement contractor for the more difficult jobs. A list of contractors who perform work in our area can be found on the Districts' website.

* If a fire should start from any abatement efforts, always contact the Fire District, even if you have put the fire out. Firefighters would like to insure the fire is completely extinguished and will not reignite later in the day or overnight.

For additional information on fire safety and prevention, call 838-6600. For more information on the Fire District's exterior hazard abatement program visit www.firedepartment.org/abatement.

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