Quick response, defensible space mitigate fire damage in Auburn

Local News

AUBURN, Calif. (KTXL) – A piece of a catalytic converter is what caused numerous fires along Auburn Folsom Road Wednesday afternoon, according to Cal Fire. 

That fire damaged several fences. Luckily, no homes were destroyed. The reason damage was scarce is thanks to defensible space and a quick response from fire crews. 

“I didn’t know what was happening in the moment,” said resident Kristen Berlant. 

Berlant had to wake up her 5-month-old son Jackson mid-nap as the fire climbed up the hill toward her home. It destroyed the main fence, but then, the fire ran out of fuel near the secondary fence. 

“Defensible space really saved our house,” Berlant told FOX40.

Defensible space is a term residents in fire-prone areas may be familiar with, but what is it?

“Defensible space is the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it,” according to Cal Fire’s website. 

“We had cleared all the way to our fence, but thankfully it didn’t make it past,” Berlant said. 

Berlant says they had removed the dry grass in February and again a month later. It was an example of practicing what you preach. Berlant is married to Cal Fire Assistant Deputy Director Daniel Berlant, who is a well-known voice of wildfire prevention. 

“I never thought it would be us and it just goes to show that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, it could happen,” Kristen Berlant said. 

While defensible space played a key role, the quick response from fire crews was vital. The station on Maidu Drive in Auburn, which is a mile away, was approved this week to stay open permanently. 

“This was a perfect example of why we need that station, and we are really glad for the support we have gotten from the council and the community,” said Battalion Chief Robert Zaucha. 

Zaucha says it’s another example of how dry conditions are currently. 

“This is the time of year that human-caused fires are one of the main reasons. Just be vigilant and be safe,” Zaucha said. 

For Kristin Berlant, she was able to have a sigh of relief. 

“We have a fence to replace, but that’s easily replaceable,” she said.

Fire crews will continue to be on their toes as the Fourth of July holiday approaches. Fireworks are not allowed in Auburn and fire officials hope people go to fireworks displays instead. 

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