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Sacramento says residents who fail to clear dry brush could face fines during fire season

<i>KOVR via CNN Newsource</i><br/>As fire danger increases in the valley
KOVR via CNN Newsource
As fire danger increases in the valley

By James Taylor, CBS13 Photojournalist

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    SACRAMENTO (KOVR) — As fire danger increases in the valley, the City of Sacramento is warning property owners to clear away dry grass and weeds. Those that don’t could be facing fines.

Firefighters say vacant lots overgrown with dry brush create a high fire danger.

“Those can quickly spread to fences and then start attic fires or start structure fires,” said Captain Justin Sylvia with the Sacramento Fire Department. “They move very quickly.”

On some lots, the weed problem is out of control.

“We were just on a fire the other day seeing 10- to 12-feet tall weeds, and that fire was moving,” Capt. Sylvia said.

Sacramento’s code enforcement department said more than 3,000 properties in the city are covered with weeds a foot or more high. CBS Sacramento obtained a list of the addresses—and it’s 86 pages long.

City law requires properties to be cleared of weeds annually by April 15. If that doesn’t happen, the land can be declared a public nuisance and owners face a $1,500 fine.

Jennifer Holden of the Mangan Park Neighborhood Association said she would like to see more enforcement done.

Holden is concerned about a vacant lot in her neighborhood on 34th Avenue. She said it has not been mowed at all this season and catches fire almost every year.

“Everybody who owns property just across the street gets extremely nervous while the fire trucks are lining up to protect us all,” Holden said.

Fire crews encourage people to mow or disk their properties. However, now that fire danger is increasing, they say that work should only be done in the mornings.

“We want to see that defensible space,” Sylvia said. “We want to see these weeds knocked down, but we want to see them knocked down at a time where it’s before 10 a.m. If it’s going to be hot and dry and windy, don’t cut that dried-out grass. Just wait.”

If property owners don’t mow or disk their land, the city can hire a contractor to clear the weeds and send the owner a bill. People concerned over lots with weeds can report the problem to 3-1-1.

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