Among other things, the general plan recommended the creation of "effective fuel breaks between urban and nonurban areas" and the use of fire-resistant vegetation and native plants by hillside homeowners.
Initially, Gibson Haskell said, residents responded aggressively with images of the 1970 blaze fresh in their minds. But by the late 1970s, "people got less serious about it," she said.
"I wish to hell people had a longer institutional memory," Gibson Haskell said.
As officials anxiously monitored weather reports predicting rains, work crews scattered grass seed across hillsides stripped naked by the flames. Others began constructing wooden and mesh flood control barriers to trap soil and rocks that could be swept loose by a deluge and imperil homes below.
Soil experts said the fire destroyed not only trees, shrubs and other vegetation, but also their roots--a key anchor for topsoil.