Dead Pine Trees Become Fire Hazards In City Limits

Dead Tree Fire Risks

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - High fire season and a record drought has eagle-eye locals on alert for danger spots.  Nearly a handful of them can be found in one particular area of Santa Barbara, off De La Vina and Chapala.

"I know the pine cones keep coming down," said Marlene Enelow.

The Santa Barbara woman stood beneath a dead pine tree, filled with brown needles, in the alley behind the new Daily Grind, formerly known as Taco Bell.

The new owner -- who did not want to go on camera -- told Newschannel 3 there are a handful of dead trees in this area and blames bark-beetles for the trees' demise.

The tiny, eighth of an inch-long insect destroys trees by tunneling through bark.

"We have a dead tree sort of in the middle of the property that's sort of iffy," said Enelow. "I don't know what we're going to do about that tree."

What's left is a tall fire hazard, not far from hanging wires.

If it's on city property -- chances are -- it's on the city's inventory list and crews will take care of it for you; the city foots the bill.

If a dead tree is on private property, the owner pays the tab.

One city employee said removing certain trees requires a special permit and suggests getting three bids first because the process can be expensive. 

The owner of the tree behind the Daily Grind is thankful the city fast-tracked the permit process; he hopes to have it out within the next couple of weeks.

Santa Barbara City's "Tree Problem" number is: 564-5433.

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