Fire Amplifies Environmentalists’ Calls for Fewer Monster Mansions

May 27, 2008

Fire Amplifies Environmentalists’ Calls for Fewer Monster Mansions

SAN JOSE (KCBS) — In the wake of the Summit fire that destroyed three dozen homes in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Corralitos, a local environmental group is calling for a slow-down in construction of so-called “monster mountain mansions.”

The Committee for Green Foothills argues that large houses mean more population, which augments the likelihood of fires like the one that has consumed nearly 4,000 acres since last Thursday.

“That means more people up there and more opportunities for accidental and intentionally-created fire,” said Brian Schmidt, an advocate with the group. He also notes that larger structures mean more square footage firefighters have to search.

But fire officials said the building materials and the amount of defensible space around the house are more significant than the size of the structure in evaluating risk.

“If we’ve got flying embers, whether it’s a very small building or a very large building, we could still see problems with the structure burning,” said Dave Shew, a battalion chief with Cal-FIRE.

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