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Burned Areas

How badly were Carlsbad’s habitat preserves affected by the Poinsettia Fire?

The fires burned virtually all of the native vegetation in the affected preserves, approximately 320 acres of privately held open space. Three sensitive habitats were included in the burn area: southern maritime chaparral, oak woodland and vernal pools.  The city, private property owners and habitat preserve managers will be protecting and monitoring the areas to see how they grow back naturally, and will actively manage restoration projects where needed.  Keeping preserves healthy within an urban environment can be difficult, and when they burn, their recovery is extra challenging because of the lack of surrounding habitat to serve as seed sources and wildlife refuge.  Other urban-related threats include invasive plants, irrigation runoff, illegal dumping, dog waste and unauthorized human access.


Why can’t we walk in the burned areas?

These areas can be hazardous to health and safety, and walking on the burned open space could further damage the habitat areas, cause erosion problems, and hamper the regrowth and restoration of these natural areas.  The city is asking the public to stay out of fire damaged areas. 


How can I defend my home against fire?

Preventive measures are the best defense against fire.  The single greatest threat to homes and businesses adjacent to large open space areas are firebrands, or hot wood embers.  The most catastrophic fires tend to occur during high wind conditions, which carry hot embers several miles. 


The most important things you can do to prevent your home from catching fire are:

          •          Remove dried and dead combustible vegetation from around your home
          •          Trim trees back away from the eave line so that they don’t overlap with the roof of the house
          •           Remove any combustible storage (receptive fuels) near the structure’s walls
          •           Ensure all attic venting is adequately screened
          •           Close windows before evacuating, if time permits


Increasing defensible space around homes will not help protect against travelling embers.  Clearing additional space may result in more vulnerability to fire, as these areas tend to become invaded by grasses and other weeds that act as tinder and fuel for a fire.


What are the planning zones and requirements for defensible space?

Section 5 of the City of Carlsbad Landscape Manual contains the Fire Protection Policies for developments that include, or are bounded by native vegetation.  There are existing brush management zones, typically 60 feet wide within the preserved lands adjacent to existing homes.  The 60 foot zone is split into three 20 foot zones that contain different restrictions concerning the type of vegetation permitted.  In some cases a portion of the zone, up to the first 20 feet, may be located within a homeowner’s property.  For more detailed information please consult the Landscape Manual available on the city website:


How much brush can I remove?

Native vegetation within protected open space preserves may not be removed.  Homeowners can only remove brush within their property. Brush removal within brush management zones outside of individual property lines are generally undertaken by an HOA. Clearing vegetation to bare soil within a brush management zone is not recommended, because this can result in erosion and weed invasion.  Recommended steps for removing brush include removing high fuel species, selectively pruning 50 percent of the remaining low fuel plants, and regularly clearing out dead wood and other flammable debris.

Refer to the City of Carlsbad Landscape Manual for more information:


When are all the old cars and appliances going to be removed?

The city is working with property owners and preserve managers on a preserve stabilization and restoration plan for the immediate future.  The plans will include multiple tasks, such as erosion control, habitat installation and junk removal, which would likely occur at the same time to ensure minimal disturbance to these sensitive areas.


Why are there fences being installed around the preserves?

The fencing will help the city keep the public’s health and safety a priority by responsibly managing access to the preserves within the burned areas.  Please be aware that walking through burned areas can be very dangerous.  Walking on the burned open space could further damage the habitat areas, cause erosion problems, and hamper the regrowth and restoration of these natural areas.