Mission Hills residents want vegetation cut back near where Ruck - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Mission Hills residents want vegetation cut back near where Rucker Fire burned

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Residents whose homes were threatened by the Rucker Fire say they would like to see the brush across the street cut back a few feet.

Mission Hills residents said only the road separated the flames from their houses.

"It was a scary time. I mean you had they were dropping fire retardant on our neighbor's houses right down the street. You know we had flames right here within 30-50 feet of our house," said James Jackson, who was evacuated during the Rucker Fire.

Residents said the brush across the street from their home was not cleared, allowing the fire to develop and threaten their homes.

"Maybe if it would have been cut back, it would have been less problems," said evacuee Steve Kennon. "That should have been cut back a long time ago."

No houses were lost in the fire, but neighbors want officials to cut back some of the vegetation as a way to prevent future fires from starting or spreading rapidly.

"To the fence would be awesome definitely clear back from the road," Jackson said.

"It'd be nice if this was pushed back more," said Richard Williams, another evacuee. "It's not very good defensible space."

Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Tom Himmelrich said the department, alongside other agencies, clear vegetation along roadways year-round. Captain Himmelrich explained that his agency prioritizes areas close to houses when cleaning up brush, but the land across from the Mission Hills homes is an ecological preserve managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"There are certain areas that are owned by different agencies, and they have more or less restrictions on what can be done," said Captain Himmelrich.

"We have removed invasive non-native plants in several locations that would have contributed to the fire hazard in the last few years, helping to protect homes around the reserve," said Andrew Hughan, CDFW's public information officer.

Regardless of which agency is responsible for different land areas, residents say the Rucker Fire was an important reminder to keep their own property clear.

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