Letter: Fire Watch

This is my 50th year living in Topanga. Before this year, the local fire  department checked on our brush clearance compliance no later than July 1. Now, property owners are given extension after extension to be in compliance. My understanding is that owners have until 8/31/2020 to comply. As of 9/15/2020, clearance will begin. My neighbor has not cleared his brush, an issue that occurs year after year. I finally was able to speak with the captain at Station 69 several weeks ago. I found his response unnerving. When I mentioned my neighbor uses a gas generator and a match (he smokes) could easily start a fire in the accumulated dry brush sitting on his property, he replied my car could start a fire. The captain said he could barely drive down my road. Big garbage trucks and delivery trucks drive it every day. He further believes my neighbor is in compliance, as people love their canopy of trees.

I responded that in the ’80s during a very bad fire in Old Canyon, firemen took a stand at homes that had been properly cleared. His response was “no fireman would be taking a stand now, as fire would be over their heads.” In fact, he sounded as if Topanga Canyon was a lost cause. 

With many calls to Sheila Kuehl’s office and much elapsed time, I have been told this captain was probably rotated in and unfamiliar with Topanga. Supposedly, the acting fire chief has been contacted. The community liaison has reassured me that the board is very aware of Topanga Canyon’s plight and deeply concerned, looking for shelters, etc. She agreed we have entered fire season. Now, on 9/8/2020, we are facing extreme fire threat. She agreed that fire captain’s response was inappropriate. I believe he should be transferred to another post in keeping with his experience.

Well, as of 6:20 p.m. today, 9/8/2020, I have not received a call from a community adviser. We are under extreme fire alert at least to 8 p.m. Wednesday. So, fellow Topangans, why are we paying Sheila Kuehl’s office (all I got was a run around) and likewise the fire department (we pay significant taxes)? I  believe we’re on our own.

Susan Ellman

13StarsManager
https://malibutimes.com
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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