I had a conversation today with a really gracious fireman from the Joshua Tree Fire Department named Jay Houseman. I was concerned by the series of rampant wildfires we’ve been having in Southern California over the last 4 days and was very concerned about the threat that fire imposed on Joshua Tree Oasis. Specifically, I was inquiring in whether or not applying a Thermal Gel of some kind would be advantageous as a preventative measure. Jay explained to me, that they use a product similar to Thermal Gel when they send their strike teams out to imperiled houses that are in the line of fire. Normally they spray the gel on with a compressor, and like the small particles in a child’s diaper, they retain water that can hopefully hold a fire at bay until the fire department can get it under control. He went on to explain, that the problem with applying this material for preventative measures as a consumer is that it is extremely expensive, costing thousands of dollars to cover an entire house, and generally these flame-retardants have a shelf life of only 1-2 years. He recommended my best bet would to provide a 100-foot clearance around the house of all brush or “fuel” sources as he called them. He said that if a property wasn’t properly cleared of fuel, and that if a fireman was forced to put his life in peril to get between a fire and a brush-clearance neglected house, they would most likely not even attempt to put out the fire, deeming it unrecoverable, and move onto a salvageable home.
And then he did the most extraordinary of things, because the Oasis is tucked so remotely away into the side of a mountain, he did not know where we were located and offered to drive a truck up to the Oasis and take a look around the property. He said the job of a good fireman is to know all areas under their jurisdiction. Now, the Joshua Tree Fire Department took a look at my property about 8 years ago when I initially purchased the it; but the Oasis has had many incredible changes since that time, including major exterior landscaping and architectural additions. I was truly nervous, because if he came back to me and said that I was in a fire hazard zone and that I would have to remove all our beautiful trees sheltering the Oasis, I’m not sure what I’d do!
I received a call later that afternoon from Jay. He said, “I’ve got some really bad news, and some great news for you…. let me start with the good.” My heart hammered away… “The good news is that you’re house is safe. You’ve done a remarkable job of clearing all surrounding brush and we’d be able to save your home.” “And the bad?” I gulped. “The bad news is that I don’t own this property! Any interest in selling?”
Hurrah for the brave firemen of Joshua Tree Oasis.