Letter: Palm Trees and Wildfire Don’t Go Together

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I wonder if South Laguna and naturally Village Laguna have reconsidered their option to have a fire station located within their area given the tragic circumstances with the fire in Laguna Niguel. Only fate had the wind blow in their direction rather than into Laguna Beach itself. In either case, having a professional team of first responders within short proximity often can make a difference in mitigating a situation. Another point to consider is vegetation. Of course Laguna has its group who worship eucalyptus trees but in this case from the footage on television it seemed that the fire area had quite a few palm trees. These trees of course have lacy fronds that blow in the wind, some with their feather-like, fine tips quickly burn and float as hot embers which can spread fires and did in this case.

This should be a lesson to us all. Palms are not the best trees either especially as we face warmer weather and of course less rainfall. Even if they are trimmed this does not mitigate their potential to spread fires. Also, they cannot be trimmed down. As they grow taller they cost more to trim and look more like telephone poles with tutus on top. What is worse is that some get so tall that men who take on this job of trimming palms—and if they are lucky—have to wear a harness of sorts to ensure their safety. It all comes down to this: plan carefully and thoughtfully choose the type of vegetation around you, maintain it, your property, and access areas. Also luck seems to play a role.

Ganka Brown, Laguna Beach

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