Assessing Chico’s fire threats

Chief says wildfire less worrisome than large buildings

In the wake of the Camp Fire, many Chicoans no doubt are curious about the local fire risk. Fire Chief Steve Standridge addressed their concerns in a presentation to the City Council Tuesday evening (Feb. 19).

Unlike Paradise, he said, Chico’s urban forest is made up mostly of deciduous trees, which burn less intensely than conifers. Chico’s flat topography is another plus.

A wildfire threat does exist on the city’s east side, especially in the areas of Upper Park and the Stilson Canyon watershed, Standridge noted. Wind is the deciding factor in how destructive a wildfire will be. Another plus: His department has established a good working relationship with Cal Fire. “We’re lucky in this area,” he said. “We have a rapid fire-response capacity.”

In fact, he worries more about building fires than wildfires. He said he is especially concerned about large apartment buildings, such as Bidwell Oaks and Sierra Sunrise. Fire can travel down their long hallways extremely fast, he said.