What’s a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone?

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(Newswire.net — May 15, 2014) Encinitas, CA –The recent Carlsbad fire, (aka Poinsettia Fire) which destroyed homes and businesses brought up reminders of the importance of having an evacuation plan and  up-to date homeowners insurance and having brush cleared around homes. It also raised some unusual questions about a topic that doesn’t seem to be associated with the coastal community of Carlsbad: Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (VHFHS).

As the name suggest, areas commonly associated with VHFHS zones are isolated, inland areas where there is a lot of wild brush and canyons and where the weather tends to be hot, dry and windy. As the Carlsbad fire demonstrated, Very High Fire Hazard Serveity zones affect homeowners near canyons even close to the ocean.

Who has to worry about VHFHS zones? And what does the law say about the home owners obligations? Those affected by such high fire danger zones are those who own, lease, control, operate or maintain any occupied dwelling or occupied structure in, upon, or adjoining any land that is covered with flammable material as determined by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Homes or property owners who fall into this criteria are, by law, obligated to take proactive measures including, but not limited to, creating firebreaks, clearing vegetation material, maintaining a screen over chimney outlets and other obligations. 

The Law-California Government Code, Section 51183.5 also states that home sellers are required to disclose to prospective transferees of real property if the property is located within a very high fire hazard severity zone, that if it is, that owner of the property is subject to certain statutory obligations specified in Governmet Code, Section 51182. Most home sellers usually pay for a National Hazard Disclosure report complied by a company. For more information regarding what you have to do if you are in a very high fire hazard severity zone, please visit the California Attorney resources page

Expert Carlsbad Realtor with ReMax By-the-Sea Real Estate Dennis Smith says “There are over 100 pages of disclosures in a normal real estate transaction. Few people read them all. Do not expect your agent to read them all either. The agent could get into legal trouble if they read some and subsequently fail to tell something may be important to you. One disclosure that is on almost every residential disclosure in the “High Fire Area” disclosure which usually comes as part of the NHD– Natural Hazard Disclosure reoport. Since the sellers probably did not read this report when they bought the home, they can’t tell you when they sell it. It is up to the buyer to read all disclosures and ask the questions that are important to them.” 

San Diego is currently in a drought and has had record temperatures and dry, Santa Ana winds which make for the perfect combination for fires. For this reason, it’s important to note that a parcel of property located outside a VHFHS zone may be subject to fires.

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RE/MAX By-The-Sea

4177 Manchester Ave.
Encinitas, CA 92024