Spring cleaning means more than just dusting off the shelves in the pantry and throwing out old boxes of junk in the garage, especially for those living in rural areas susceptible to wildfires. Homes are major fuel sources for wildfires and each year thousands of homes are burned and destroyed by wildfires across the United States. For those who enjoy living close to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest’s forests and wild lands it is important to ensure that you take time to clean up your property and help keep it as fire safe as possible.
Here are some great tips that were recently published on thenewsguard.com on how to prepare your home and property for fire season.
Stop the fuel ladder
Most fires start and accelerate in tall dry grass and kindling lying on the forest floor. This can be anything from grasses to pine needles to fallen limbs or dead shrubbery. As the fire spreads it begins to climb, seeking bigger fuel sources to increase its growth. Fires then spread by jumping from limb to limb gaining ferocity and power. Fires that reach the canopy are known as crown fires and are highly destructive and extremely fast moving. As fires move across the tree line they look for bigger, stronger fuel sources to feed on, which means that trees close to homes and structures are particularly susceptible to igniting thus causing the structure itself to go up in flames. By trimming back your landscaping so that there are no trees or limbs immediately around your house you can help to provide clear defensible space between your home and a potential wildfire.
Choose your landscaping wisely
Many popular landscaping plants like ornamental juniper are easy to ignite and burn hot and fast. There are several accounts of home being spared from destruction during a fire only to catch fire hours or days later from the smoldering hot ash of their juniper bushes. Choose landscaping plants that stay green and hold moisture as they tend to be more fire resistant and burn slower and cooler. Also keep a buffer zone between your landscaping plants and your home where possible.
Clean your gutters
This should be on every home owner’s spring cleaning list, but as the saying goes, sometimes out of sight is out of mind. Winds that often accompany fast burning fires can spread embers and flames over great distances. Dry materials like leaves and pine needles that collect in gutters can be all a single ember needs to burst into a flame and catch a home’s roof on fire.
Block the Fire’s Path
Fires need fuel to continue growing, and when they run out of a fuel source they’ll typically move away from that area and towards fuel rich zones. By breaking up your landscaping and creating dead zones where no grass or shrubbery exists you eliminate the fuel source for an encroaching fire and can actively help to turn the fire away. Keep your landscaping well watered and cared for and remove any dead shrubbery or trees from the area. Also keep your propane tanks and fuel storage no less than 30 feet from your home.
Follow these basic tips will help you to protect your property against catastrophic damage from forest fires and keep you enjoying life in rural Pacific Northwest.