As the climate warms, the risk of wildfire is growing. So over the past decade, residents of Topanga Canyon, California, have been fireproofing their community.

Trained volunteers visit residents’ homes and make recommendations.

Ryan Ulyate of the Topanga Canyon Fire Safe Council says that fires in the area typically start when embers are carried in by the wind from elsewhere.

“Imagine a million matches being flung at your house. What’s going to catch on fire?” he says.

So he says it’s important to keep leaves out of gutters, put a fine mesh over attic vents, and avoid wood mulch.

Because the community has taken widespread action, Topanga was recently recognized by the National Fire Protection Association and CAL FIRE as a Firewise community. The designation allows residents to get a discount on their insurance.

But the biggest benefit is reduced anxiety. Ulyate says that when his family evacuated during the Woolsey fire in 2018, the work they had done to reduce their fire risk made the experience less frightening.

“We were able to evacuate with the feeling that there’s a good chance that when we came back, our house would still be there,” he says. “And that, in that kind of a stressful situation, is a good peace of mind to have.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media