California town buys land to create fire break

If sellers comply, Paradise incorporates properties into existing parks

New York Weekend Edition /
Aug.August 29, 2021 09:00 AM
A street where every house had burned down after the 2018 fire in Paradise (Getty)

A street where every house had burned down after the 2018 fire in Paradise (Getty)

A California town devastated in the 2018 Camp Fire is buying up its most vulnerable properties to stave off future fires.

Paradise city officials want to turn those properties into fire-resistant green spaces, according to KCRW.

If the buyers are willing to sell them, the town will connect them to existing park land, providing more park space and a built-in fire break.

The program is voluntary. So far the town has purchased about 300 acres of vulnerable land with sales for around 500 acres more in the works.

Dan Efseaff, director of the Paradise park district, estimates about $20 million more is needed to acquire enough properties to make a difference in terms of fire protection.

The properties are some of the most hard-to-reach in the town — those down winding dirt roads that firefighters can’t safely reach.

Zoning would prevent many of those homes from being built today, but they often found buyers because they are cheaper than homes in safer areas.

The Camp Fire killed 85 people and destroyed around 14,000 homes, many of them in Paradise.

The fire was sparked by poorly maintained PG&E equipment. The company in 2019 agreed to pay damages of about $1 billion in compensation to cities, counties and other parties.

[KCRW] — Dennis Lynch 





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