County of Marin - News Releases - Wildfire Awareness

For Immediate Release
May 03, 2017

Despite Greenery, Wildfire Season Approaches

Is your home defensible? Assess vegetation and help reduce fire fuels

San Rafael, CA – After an epic soak over the past few months, vegetation in Marin County is lush – like we haven’t seen it in years. The drought is in the rear-view mirror, but the inevitable wildfire season is coming back into view.

Fire photo shows trees and smoke in the background and green ferns in the foreground.Wildfires, such as this one that struck Roy's Redwoods Open Space Preserve, are a constant threat to neighborhoods near open spaces and other undeveloped areas.

“As odd as might sound to us now, we’re starting to look at increased seasonal staffing like we do every year,” said Chief Jason Weber of the Marin County Fire Department. “Most of our residents live either within or very close to those beautiful undeveloped hills and valleys that attracted many of us here in the first place. Because of that, we’re going to have periods of heightened alerts as it gets drier.”

The Marin County Board of Supervisors plans to recognize Wildfire Awareness Week, May 1-7, at its May 9 meeting. By adopting a resolution, the Supervisors will urge Marin residents to heed important safety messages and support public safety activities of Marin’s fire and emergency services agencies.

A home might be the most valuable investment you ever make, and defensible space – the buffer zone between a building and nearby vegetation – is essential to improve chances of it burning in a wildfire. Residents are urged to take steps now to create defensible space and protect their investment through responsible landscaping and the use of fire resistant construction materials.

“Defensible space increases the survival chances of your home while making it safer for firefighters who might be called upon to defend your home,” Weber said, “and I can assure you that we really appreciate the support.”

The Bay Area’s weather over the past few months added a new dynamic to this coming fire season, which is due to begin in late spring. The end of California’s five-year drought left behind a buildup of dead trees and shrubs interspersed among incredible vegetation growth from Marin’s wettest winter in more than 20 years.

“Everybody’s saying we’re all wet and green now, and that’s true, but it’s all going to be fuel when it becomes dry enough to burn,” said Battalion Chief Christie Neill, who focuses on wildfire protection and vegetation management. “Green material will burn … it just has to get heated to a point at which all the moisture dries off. If we get windy days, that will accelerate the drying.”

No matter how wet a winter is, light and medium fire fuels such as grass and brush always dry out in California, said Deputy Chief Mark Brown. “During the summer, the vast majority of homes destroyed by vegetation fires in Marin are caused by wildland fires burning primarily in grass and brush,” he said.

There have been many severe wildfires in Marin’s history, the most recent in 1995 when 12,354 acres and 45 structures burned during the Vision Fire in Inverness. Although there were no deaths or major injuries in that blaze, 422 people had to be evacuated and dozens of families were rendered homeless. The largest wildfire in Marin history was in 1929 when 40,000 acres burned between Lucas Valley and Bolinas.

Local events during Wildfire Awareness Week include:

  • Defensible space inspections by returning seasonal Marin County Fire Department firefighters. Call your local fire station for details.
  • An updated list of fire-resistant plants on
  • Firewise Day event, May 6, for residents living in wildland urban interface areas, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Marin Valley Mobile Country Club clubhouse, 100 Marin Valley Drive, Novato.
  • Defensible space free chipper day, May 6, provided by Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District (for Sleepy Hollow residents only).
  • FireSafeMarin information booth at the Sunday Civic Center farmers market in San Rafael, provided in partnership with PG&E.

Watch this video for an overview of the Marin County Fire Department. 


Jason Weber
Marin County Fire Department

33 Castle Rock Ave.
Woodacre, CA 94973
(415) 473-6717
Email: Jason Weber
Marin County Fire website