Mammoth Lakes is located in the heart of the Inyo National Forest, a region which is subject to extended periods of no precipitation, low humidity and high winds. The area surrounding the town is densely forested, with high concentrations of trees, thick brush and steep slopes, all of which can contribute to the rapid spread of wildfire. Mammoth Lakes also has a significant amount of Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), which is an area where development and structures are directly adjacent to or intermingle with wildland vegetation, creating an increased risk for fire. The best possible mitigation measure in any WUI zone involves establishing and maintaining defensible space. Defensible space is the buffer you create between any structure, and the trees, shrubs, grass and plants that surround it. To assist residents with defensible space, MLFD offers free property inspections, as well as a free chipping program throughout the summer months.
Please call (760) 934-2300 to inquire about defensible space resources or to schedule these services.
Any property owner may request a defensible space inspection, as long as the property is located within District boundaries. MLFD will also conduct general neighborhood inspections as scheduling permits. Once an inspection has been completed, the property owner will be provided with a written report that either verifies compliance with defensible space requirements, or specifies conditions that will need to be addressed within 30 days. Properties with areas to improve will be reinspected after 30 days. Continued violations may result in citation.
Embers are as hot as the fire from which they originate, and are light enough to be carried by the wind for long distances. They are also the primary reason that homes and properties ignite when there is a wildfire nearby.
Fire resistant tarps are required if 30 feet or more of clearance from a structure cannot be obtained. Tarps must prevent embers from getting in or around the woodpile, and be properly secured. Fire resistant tarps must display the California State Fire Marshal seal permanently attached to the tarp material. As an alternative, up to three sides of the woodpile may be covered with 1/16 inch metal screen that has at least one inch of clearance from the firewood. The screen shall be firmly attached to the deck rail or other permanent structure, and the screen and/or tarp shall completely cover the woodpile. A wood box that completely surrounds the wood is also an acceptable means of compliance.
Defensible space is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between a building on your property, and the grass, trees, shrubs and wildland vegetation that surround it. This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire either from direct flame contact or radiant heat. Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home.