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Kern River Valley man credit defensible house for conserving his dwelling secure

KERN COUNTY, Calif. (KGET) — Wildfires ripping through parts of Kern County’s hilly and mountainous landscape has become a near daily occurrence. For John Strand, that meant right at his back yard.

“It’s just scary. It’s surreal, you know?” said John Strand, a Squirrel Mountain Valley resident. “It’s hard to comprehend what it can really do because the power of fire is severe.”

Strand would know. In 2016 the Erskine Fire near his home destroyed at least 80 houses, but a small safety measure he takes has kept his home safe for 20 years.

“Fortunately, my weed whacking guys, at the recommendation of the fire department — bless their hearts — they did a really good job,” Strand said. “When they say defensible space, I would urge anybody to pay close attention to that, because defensible space is just that, and it’ll save your house.”

While reporting this story from the Kern River Valley, another fire ripped through the hills near Highway 178 and Morning Drive.

As fires burn relentlessly and can threaten many homes, Strand recommends mowing weeds around the home as short as possible. Strand is confident in the safety measures he’s taken.

“Like a lucky guy, yup, I dodged a bullet one more time,” he said.

“I plan to continue to do so just by taking precautions. … It’s a good idea, and I would urge anybody to please, please do it.”

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