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New Fire Station Opens in Wildfire-Prone Folsom

FOLSOM -- Much of Folsom is made up of flat suburban neighborhoods but to the north and east around the Empire Ranch development some streets are surrounded by views of the Sacramento Valley and Folsom Lake.

But if you're looking for a spectacular view it comes at some risk.

The terrain is extremely difficult to defend against a wildland fire. It's not just terrain, it's the grasses, brush and oak timber that has fueled 15 wildfires in the city last year alone, often threatening homes.

Local and state fire maps show that as many as 2,000 homes are at a high risk of wildfires, the most of any local city.

"Just a few years ago we had a major fire up here right on this hillside and we were afraid it was going to take all those trees and come down and hit some of the houses," said Folsom resident Dick Lane.

Monday's opening of Folsom's fifth fire station at the foot of the Folsom Bluffs was long overdue. Planned 12 years ago, the Great Recession delayed the project until now.

The station is strategically placed for a fast response.

"It doesn't become wild, so that's our goal is to keep them small and extinguish them quickly," said Folsom Fire Chief Felipe Rodriguez.

The Carr Fire in Redding showed how vulnerable city neighborhoods can be. The Coffey Park area in Santa Rosa was not considered a high-risk area.

Windblown embers with high heat and low humidity proved that no neighborhood is absolutely safe.

In Folsom, the encroachment of development into wildland areas increases the fire hazard.

Local fire safe councils are already keeping grasses cut and fire officials say property owners have to help them out with 30 to 100 feet of cushion without debris or brush.

"Really clean it up and give the firefighters a chance to extinguish a fire and or give the fire to extinguish itself before it reaches a structure," Rodriguez said.