By Marlee Ginter

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY (CBS13) – A new firefighting tool couldn’t come at a better time as crews brace for an active fire season.  Several miles near Lake Nacimiento in San Luis Obispo County is now coated with long-term fire retardant. It’s a new extra layer of protection.

“Roadside ignitions is a very very common problem. it’s probably one of the highest ignition sources,” said Dan Turner, San Luis Obispo County Fire Safe Council Manager.

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Nacimiento Lake Drive is a hot spot for flames every year.  The 2016 chimney fire burned more than 46,000 acres and destroyed 70 structures.
It was all started by a car that ignited dry grass.

“That’s what the Fortify product can do is adhere or coat the vegetation. It helps to render it nonflammable,” said Wes Bolsen, Perimeter Solutions Global Wildfire Prevention and Protection Business Director.

Phos-Chek Fortify, a new fire prevention tool, is now being used up and down California.  Crews applied the retardant in Temecula just last week.  While planes drop red retardant from above to stop the spread of active wildfires, ground crews apply the white solution to keep the fires from even starting.

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“What we’re doing is clearly just putting it on vegetation that is at high risk of burning,” said Bolsen.

The Fortify product basically adheres to or coats the vegetation, rendering it non-flammable. Bolsen says the vegetation chars and then if there were heat coming in, it actually releases H20.

“It’s designed to spray alongside the road to keep fires from occurring, to stop ignitions and then if they do get ignition, reduce the spread to buy time to get the fire engines to arrive and put the fire out,” said Turner.

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It’s a new layer of defense during a dangerously dry fire season.