Defense against fire? Here are some tips

The hot weather has returned to the Northern San Joaquin Valley and the Central Sierra foothills, and so has the threat of wildfires.

The recent Santa Barbara County fire that destroyed 80 homes and burned more than 8,700 acres serves as a reminder to foothill residents that fighting wildfires starts with a good defense at home, said officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Cal Fire officials urge residents to put 100 feet of defensible space between their homes and potential fuel such as trees and grasses.

"Each year has the potential of being the worst fire season ever," said Nancy Longmore, a fire prevention specialist for the Cal Fire Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit, which covers Tuolumne, eastern Stanislaus, Calaveras and eastern San Joaquin counties.

The Cal Fire Tuolumne- Calaveras Unit began last week to staff all of its 15 fire stations on a 24-hour basis. The Cal Fire air base in Columbia was staffed as of Monday.

A defensible space of 100 feet around your home is required by law for residents in state fire protection areas. Cal Fire officials say the goal is to protect your home while providing a safe area for firefighters to battle blazes. Longmore said the defensible space also helps keep home fires from spreading to the wildland.

She said protecting your home means you are also protecting your neighbors' homes as well as your community.