Fire inspectors to scrutinize Oakland Hills homes

Firefighters and inspectors will soon begin inspecting homes in the high-fire-risk Oakland Hills area for defensible space around the homes, fire officials said.

Starting May 15, every home will get a visit in the area, which has been deemed by Cal Fire to be a Very High Fire Severity Zone. Vegetation around homes must have been cleared in compliance with the California Fire Code, Oakland fire officials said in a statement Monday.

Properties not in compliance will be re-inspected 30 days later.

There is a re-inspection fee, said Maria Sabatini, Oakland’s acting assistant fire marshal. The fee is currently being determined but will be in the neighborhood of $300, she said.

The inspections are part of a program developed to protect the city from a repeat of the deadly 1991 Oakland Hills fire.

This month, homeowners in the zone will get an inspection notice with detailed information about requirements for what is known as “defensible space” around houses and a checklist to help them get their properties in compliance, fire officials said.

Defensible space is created by removing weeds, tall grass, brush and tree limbs that pose a fire hazard within 30 feet of the house as a buffer between a structure and an advancing fire. Up to 100 feet may be required on steep lots, according to the fire department.

The department is holding two workshops to educate homeowners about the vegetation inspection program. The workshops will be held April 10 and 19 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Redwood Heights Recreation Center at 3883 Aliso Ave. in Oakland.

More information about reducing the risk of wildfire is available on the Oakland Fire Department’s website at http://www2.oaklandnet.com/government/o/OFD/index.htm.