For print only.

Burning of dead brush likely to occur soon on Rossmoor hills

By Sam Richards

Staff Writer


Wednesday, April 10 (1:30 p.m.): Progress is being made in removing excess brush from the hills above Rossmoor, making the valley a little safer for every acre cleared.

Tom Cashion, Rossmoor’s director of public safety, said crews led by the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District are clearing about one acre per day as part of the ongoing campaign to remove excess dry vegetation from a strip of land on the hills above and around Rossmoor, eventually to encircle about 85% of the community.

But the cost of progress, in this case, is a series of “burn piles” of dead brush that will have to be disposed of in some way. And it appears that most of it will be burned, some of it fairly soon, if everything breaks right.

“We’re getting close to the point where there is no more burning allowed,” Cashion told the GRF Board on March 28. “If it doesn’t happen by the end of April, they most likely won’t be doing the burn piles until fall.”

In a subsequent interview, Cashion said, “(ConFire) will not be doing any burning when grasses are brown or yellow … only green.” Burn permits from both CalFire and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District will be required.

This shaded fuel break project is happening thanks to a $3.1 million grant obtained in June 2022 by ConFire – with both GRF and the city of Walnut Creek providing public support – from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire). ConFire and GRF hosted a kickoff event in January for the shaded fuel break work.

All the involved agencies have deemed the clearing work critical to protect Rossmoor residents, and structures, from the path of any potential future wildfire in the surrounding area. This safety measure will, GRF officials hope, help increase the chances of GRF and its Mutuals obtaining as much property insurance coverage as possible.

While it generally would be preferable to run the cleared vegetation through woodchippers than to burn it, Cashion said the steep hillside locations where the waste piles lie preclude economical or practical chipping. A helicopter or cranes probably would be required to get the chippers there, he said. The most recent clearing work, Cashion said, has been taking place behind the Mutual Operations Department (MOD) complex on the ridgelines on Rossmoor’s east side.

“You just can’t get a chipper to where the piles are located,” he told the GRF Board. As the work around Rossmoor’s upper rim progresses, Cashion said, there probably will be some places where a chipper can be handily brought to the “green waste” piles that need chipping.

Cashion told the Board that if GRF gets enough notice of when a burn will take place, a story will go into the Rossmoor News print edition. A notice will go out on the breaking news page of www. if there’s less lead time.

In either event, Cashion said, GRF will send Nixle notices advising that smoke will be from these planned burns and not indicative of a wildfire. Residents can sign up for Nixle alerts at (click the Nixle link under Quick Links at the bottom of the page).