Dried leaves are tinder dry. We are now in the peak of the 2011 Fire Season. It now been several months since we've had any rainfall and the hillside brush is dry and ready to burn. The daytime temperatures are rising and humidity levels are dropping. Mix in some off-shore wind and you have the right combination for wildfire.
Why are the leaves in the roof gutters a threat? Because wildfire produces ember showers that travel ahead of the main fire with the wind. The roof top gutters are optimum locations for landing embers to ignite leaves, twigs and other dried bits of vegetation. If the fire isn't extinguished quickly, it can spread to other parts of the home. If fire crews are already committed fighting the main body of the fire, there might not be sufficient numbers of fire units to chase down smaller fires starting in gutters. This is how problems quickly get out of control and fire units become overwhelmed.
Even if you don't live in the hills, ember showers can travel significant distances based on how strong the winds are blowing. Thus, be proactive and clear the dry leaves out of the gutters of your home. There might be other areas where leaves have accumulated. Look for these spots and clear them as well. Lastly, always be careful on the roof. Don't take any unnecessary chances.