Paradise is wake up call for Sonora

To the Editor:

What happened in Paradise could happen in Sonora. And no amount of forest management is going to save us because most of our county communities lie in oak, shrub, and grass areas outside managed forests.

As Tuolumne County and the City of Sonora have developed, the presence of homes and landscaping has intensified fire danger. Drive through any neighborhood and you will see many people conscientiously trying to follow the state fire prevention guidelines to safeguard their homes.

You will also see homeowners who take no precautions. The same neglect applies to many undeveloped lots and acreage. This poses dire threat not only to neighbors but also to entire areas.

As taxpayers we spend enormous amounts of money on our various fire departments and fire insurance premiums but many times the result is still loss of life and property. And yet it seems to be human nature to say that it can never happen here.

But it can, and we need to prioritize accordingly. The primary emphasis has to be prevention of wildfire rather than the response. That is going to take 100 percent participation by all property owners including those of undeveloped land.

Neighborhoods need to become organized similar to Crime Watch programs only this time to prevent a far more greater and probable threat to our lives and property. With local government assistance neighbors need to form committees to identify where hazards exist and have volunteer work parties to help those in need of assistance.

County and city ordinances must be enforced where property owners refuse to comply. During the winter months our various fire departments need to be more proactive in getting personnel into neighborhoods to help set up, educate, and assist our local volunteer fire prevention brigades.

Ed Fernandez