Dead trees raising fire safety concerns this Independence Day

Dry leaves from a dead tree on Wible Road in Bakersfield, Calif., hang over Daniel Rivera's home on Monday, July 3, 2017. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Eyewitness News received a call on our tip line from a viewer concerned about a dead tree that is wilting next to his home.

Daniel Rivera, the concerned viewer, said the tree is on city property but the branches are reaching over his yard, creating a potential fire hazard.

Rivera said he has been calling the city of Bakersfield for more than a year, asking someone to do something about it. But nothing has been done.

“Every time the Fourth of July rolls around, I just start seeing how dry it is, and I want it removed,” Rivera said.

Rivera said five years ago, the dead tree showed signs of aging, and now it’s completely dry. The dead tree is prime fuel to ignite a fire.

"It’s a fire hazard waiting to happen,” said David Johnson, Rivera’s neighbor.

On Monday, Johnson spent the afternoon in the hot sun, creating defensible space between his home and the dead tree. He said about 10 years ago, another house in the neighborhood burned down on the Fourth of July.

"I’m out here for the sake of my family and to prevent something from happening,” said Johnson. “I’m doing all I can today so we can have an enjoyable Fourth of July."

We took their complaint to Darin Budak, the assistant director for Bakersfield’s Recreation and Parks. Budak said they have more than 300 dead trees they are planning to take down in the next month.

Eyewitness News asked about the tree behind Rivera's yard, but they were not able to tell us if it was on the list.

After our conversation with department officials, they said they will send a crew to evaluate the tree on Wednesday.

If you have a dead tree near your home or business, you should call the Recreation and Park Department at (661) 326-3866.

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