Corona del Mar Today: Fire chief explains fire maps

March 31, 2012|By Amy Senk
  • Work continues on Buck Gully in Corona del Mar.
Work continues on Buck Gully in Corona del Mar. (Courtesy Amy Senk )

Newport Beach Fire Chief Scott Poster met with about 40 residents Wednesday evening, explaining the seemingly flip-flopping position that Corona del Mar has on state fire hazard maps.

State law requires the Newport Beach City Council to adopt a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone Map with special building and landscaping requirements for homes within the map.

The state's maps, which the council considered in January, originally included most of Newport Coast as well as homes along Buck Gully and Morning Canyon and stretched from Orchid down to Crystal Cove. But the City Council declined to vote on that map, asking for more public outreach and refinement.

Poster, who was sworn in as chief last month after that council meeting, told the group at the OASIS Senior Center that he spent time reviewing the fire hazard zone, flying over it in an Orange County Fire Authority helicopter, as well as studying maps, reviewing weather and wind conditions, and more.


As a result of his studies, he suggested that most of Corona del Mar be removed from the fire hazard maps.

"We're proposing to the state that their cautions are different than our calculations," he said.

About 270 homes along Morning Canyon and mid- and Lower Buck Gully already are in fuel modification zones, which means city fire officials inspect and require clearing vegetation to limit fuel supplies in case of a wildland fire. Those restrictions are adequate, he said, without adding the homes to the state fire maps, which would mean even stricter landscaping and building requirements.

Homes along Upper Buck Gully would remain on the state's maps, he said.

The Corona del Mar Residents Assn. hosted the meeting.


Vegetation returning to Lower Buck Gully

Crews are spraying the slopes above Lower Buck Gully with seeds, revegetating the area after completing most of an erosion project that began last September.

The $2-million project used a series of multi-layered cages filled with rocks that were designed to divert and slow water as it flows from Upper Buck Gully toward Little Corona Beach. The goal was to protect the hills on Evening Canyon and Hazel Drive from collapse.

Crews built a temporary road down to the creek bed before spending months adding the cages and rocks. They also removed invasive plants and wildlife, and plans include capturing non-native cowbirds and moving them to another area.

The hydroseed spray is part of plans to revegetate the canyon slopes with native plants.


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