The Auburn Journal editorial, “2010: Let’s get back to basics” (Jan. 3), noted in reference to the devastating 49 Fire, “If area residents had known what could have happened when hot, dry, windy conditions met a spark last Aug. 30, they would have cleared the dry brush and scrub oak off Highway 49 near Bell Road.”

But disaster doesn’t have to be our destiny. Wild land fire in Auburn is inevitable. We live in a tinderbox. But a catastrophic fire — with the loss of loved ones, homes and precious memories — can be prevented.

Right now Auburn residents have the power to protect their family, home and neighborhood through personal responsibility and teamwork.

What can you do? Print the “Homeowners Checklist” from www.firesafecouncil.org. Take 30 minutes on a Saturday morning or afternoon and assess what further steps you can take to make your home fire-safe. It’s easy to do. Even an Auburn city councilman can do it!

If you don’t want to print the “Homeowners Checklist” from the Internet, your neighbors on the Greater Auburn Area Fire Safe Council have custom-designed the checklist for Auburn (with useful local phone numbers) and would be happy to hand deliver a copy of the checklist to your home.

Send us an email at gaafsc@hotmail.com and we will get you this very helpful guide.

Last Monday night, the Auburn City Council declared Saturday, May 22, as “Defensible Space Day in Auburn.” It was a reminder that when residents provide defensible space around their homes, our firefighters can go on the offensive against the fire. We are the first line of defense. Auburn residents also have the power to protect their community through teamwork.

For our own safety, we cannot afford to wait any longer for the federal Bureau of Reclamation to remove the dangerous levels of dry wood fuel that accumulate each year in the American River Canyon along the eastern border of Auburn. The federal government will not save us. We must save ourselves.

We will make a great beginning on Saturday, May 22 in a volunteer event called “Project Canyon Safe.”

Your neighbors on the Greater Auburn Area Fire Safe Council have been working for weeks to organize the first volunteer fire reduction effort on between eight and 10 acres on Robie Point. This event will lead to restoring Shaded Fuel Break along the ridge of the American River Canyon and benefit the entire City of Auburn.

Help us make Project Canyon Safe an important step forward. Dress in long pants, a long shirt, and wear sturdy shoes or boots. Bring garden gloves.

Park your car on Borland Avenue and a bus will pick you up at the intersection of Borland and Lubeck and take you back at any time. Greater Auburn Area Fire Safe Council members will provide lunch to all the volunteers.

Or, if you can’t work that day, send a tax-deductible donation to the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, 601 Lincoln Way, Auburn, CA 95603. Make your check out to “Project Canyon Safe.”

A generous donor has pledged to match your donation not only for the May 22 event but any contributions towards sustaining fuel reduction projects all along the American River Canyon.

We have a great opportunity to make Auburn a safer place to live. Let’s grab that opportunity with gusto.