Wildfire and Fire Safety

Given the right weather and fuel conditions, wildfire can move shockingly fast. Each year, California’s wildfire season seems to grow more devastating and destructive. Take action now to defend you, your family, and your home from fire.

HOME IGNITION ZONE ASSESSMENTS

During a wildfire, thousands of embers can rain down on your home and property like hail during a storm. If these embers land in receptive fuels or become lodged in something easily ignited on or near your house, the home may be in jeopardy of burning. This area is commonly referred to as the Home Ignition Zone. 

Embers coming into contact with flammable material is a major reason why homes are destroyed during wildfire. Common materials that become embers during wildfire include palm fronds, branches, tree bark, and native vegetation. Depending on fire intensity, wind speed, and the size of materials that are burning, embers can be carried more than a mile ahead of the fire. Consequently, even homes located blocks away from the actual flame front are vulnerable to ignition and complete destruction. By being ember aware and taking action ahead of time, a homeowner can substantially reduce the ember threat. 

Utilizing City staff and certified volunteers, the city offers no cost, no obligation Home Ignition Zone Assessments to assist residents by providing recommendations for hardening their homes against flying embers. 

To schedule a home assessment, click here.

CREATE A DEFENSIBLE HOME

Thousands of homes in Malibu and the surrounding areas are in serious danger of destruction by fire because they are in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) where human development intermingles with forests, fields, and other wildlands. However, there are steps homeowners can take to reduce the chance of home ignition:

  • Prune trees and vegetation away from the house, including vines or ivy
  • Use fire-resistant building materials, such as brick, cement, masonry, or stucco, whenever possible
  • Cover rain gutters to prevent accumulation of pine needles, leaves, and roofing sand runoff
  • Keep the area around, under, and over propane tanks clear of tree branches and leaves
  • Embers are one of the greatest threats to your home during a wildfire. Seal off eaves or other gaps that might allow embers to get into the interior of your home.
  • Railroad ties should not be used for landscaping. They are extremely flammable and prone to re-ignition even after the initial fire.

BUILD AN ACTION PLAN

It is critical to decide ahead of time how you and your family will respond to a wildfire and evacuation orders.

  • Plan multiple escape routes from your home and other parts of Malibu that you frequent. Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Ready! Set! Go! program can help you plan for evacuations in advance.
  • Pick a location to the North (Valley) and South (West LA/Santa Monica) where family members coming from different areas can reunite.
  • Make sure your disaster supply kit contains appropriate protective clothing for fire conditions.
  • Have several ways to stay in touch with family and friends. Texting may be more reliable when networks are overloaded. Radios may also be helpful, depending on the situation. Mobile phone apps like Zello can work as long as you have power and WiFi.
  • Practice your plan! Know what items you can grab in five minutes, 30 minutes, one hour, and so on.

RED FLAG WARNING AND FIRE WEATHER WATCH

A Red Flag Warning is issued by the National Weather Service for weather events that may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 to 48 hours due to forecasted high winds and low humidity combined with low live fuel moistures. A Fire Weather Watch is issued when weather conditions could exist in the next 12-72 hours. During these times, extreme caution is urged for all residents because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire. 

Residents can prepare for Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches by storing patio furniture cushions inside, reviewing their emergency action plan, ensuring their “go bag” is ready, and making sure they always have enough fuel in their vehicles for safe evacuation.

The Fire Department, Sheriff’s Department, and City staff participate in daily conference calls with the local National Weather Service office and respond to warnings and watches by increasing staffing and resources. Residents should avoid risky fire behaviors and remain vigilant. If you see flames or smell smoke, call 911 immediately.

The current fire weather forecast can be viewed on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website

COMMUNITY WILDFIRE PROTECTION PLAN

The City is in the process of developing a citywide Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).  A CWPP is a community-based plan focused on identifying and addressing local hazards, risks, and vulnerabilities from wildfire. It provides a road map of action items to help the community prevent, mitigate, respond, and recover from the potential wildfire threat. It may also assist the City and its partners in qualifying for State and federal funding opportunities to implement the plan. 

CWPP Public Workshops

The City will provide two opportunities to attend a CWPP workshop at Malibu City Hall (23825 Stuart Ranch Rd) in the Multipurpose Room:

  • Thursday, February 20, 2020, at 6:00 PM
  • Saturday, February 22, 2020, 10:00 AM

These workshops will provide an opportunity for residents and other stakeholders to not only better understand the process for developing the CWPP, but also participate and be involved in the process.

CWPP ON-LINE SURVEY

Beginning approximately the second week of February and continuing for at least two months the City will make an on-line survey available seeking additional public input. The survey will be found here and will be announced via social and traditional media outlets when it becomes available.

ADDITIONAL CWPP INFORMATION

Additional information on the CWPP development process can be found in the CWPP Process Guide and the CWPP Community Guide.

HOUSE FIRE SAFETY

Every single person, no matter where they live, or what kind of home they live in, is at risk of a house fire. Common causes of fires that begin inside the home include: unattended candles, cooking mishaps, faulty wiring, and flammable materials. Luckily, house fires are entirely preventable. Use the resources below to improve home fire safety for you and your family: