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Fire Crews Visit Thousands Of Homes To Enforce Brush Clearance

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(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Starting this week, Los Angeles County firefighters are checking on 39,000 properties to make sure land owners have cut back brush away from buildings.

All brush must be cleared within 50 feet of homes and businesses, a fire department spokesman said. If property owners fail to remove brush, county crews may eventually hire someone to do it, and the property owner would get the bill.

KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta reports the effort will not only protect property from fire damage, but could ultimately save violators thousands of dollars in fees.

May 1 was the deadline for residents in most parts of the county to clear the brush from their properties, and June 1 is the deadline for coastal areas.

Los Angeles Fire Dept. spokesman Eric Scott says residents should have a wildfire action plan, easy access to emergency supplies, and an escape route.

“If you’re leaving your home, we know that’s a very difficult and emotional decision for people to make, but in reality the stay-and-defend concept that may sound very reasonable on paper is very dangerous,” Scott said.

Residents are urged to choose plantings from an approved list to help prevent wildfire from jumping from one fuel source to another and eventually to a home.

In addition to brush removal, the fire department’s Fuel Modification Program helps protect newly built homes by requiring vegetation to be planted in zones around structures.

Click here for information on companies that provide brush clearance services.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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