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California law requires 5-feet around homes, 100 feet around property for wildfires

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Posted at 3:32 PM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 15:57:38-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A new California law might make it easier for insurance companies to drop coverage in high fire areas. The state now required 5-feet of defensible space around your home, separate from the 100 feet of space needed for your property.

On January 1, 2021, the California Public Resources Code was updated to require an “ember-resistant zone”. That means adding 5-feet of space between the physical structure of the home and any materials that can burn.

Alpine Fire Protection District’s Jason McBroom says that applies to a wide range of materials.

“Those beautiful box hedges, bougainvillea, birds of paradise, anything that’s combustible.” Said McBroom.

It also applies to mulch and bark. The state recommends replacing those items with things like concrete, stone, or gravel.

McBroom says the ember-resistance zone not only helps keep your home safe, but it can also keep you from losing your insurance.

“So, when an insurance agent is coming out and doing site inspections of your home, and they see combustible material within this first five feet they’re going to start immediately denying,” said McBroom.

He says the code applies to existing homes designated in ‘very high fire severity' zones. That would include places like Alpine, Lakeside, and Bonita. A similar code is already in place for new construction.

McBroom says the fuel moisture in San Diego County is lower than it should be, so he’s expecting a stronger than normal fire season this year.

The Alpine Fire Protection District is working to notify its residents of the new law. If residents don’t comply, they could face local and state fines of more than $1,000.