Even though we’ve been getting some afternoon showers lately, all it will take is a few warm, dry days and–in the blink of an eye–we’ll be in fire season.
A time of year when fires start easily and spread rapidly.
There are many steps people can take to improve their home’s survivability should a wildfire burn through neighborhoods.
Central Oregon Daily News took a home defensible space tour with the Oregon State Fire Marshal.
“This particular home has the asphalt shingles. They look to be in pretty good shape, said Heather Miller, a risk reduction specialist with the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office.
“There’s not of openings where embers could catch in there and start a fire within it. We also look at what’s on the roof. Is there any tree litter on there, pine needles, things like that, making sure that’s all clear.”
During wildfires, most homes are lost as a result of ember showers that can drift miles from an active fire.
Embers can smolder in pine needles, leaves, even patio furniture cushions, eventually igniting nearby flammable items like fascia boards, fences, decks and siding.
Defensible space does not mean a moonscape, as evidenced in one northeast Bend backyard.
“Another feature we have back here is the green lawn which is a great firebreak in itself,” Miller said. “We recommend if you have a lawn that you keep it watered and cut low to no more than four inches.”
“We limbed up all the trees. This year we took out all the big overgrown shrubbery and went in with the native pollinators,” said Cheryl Howard, homeowner. “Doing it in small sections every season. Just identifying what the problems might be and tackling it season after season has worked pretty well over a course of ten years.”
Fire risk appraisers say anyone can improve defensible space around their home by spending five minutes a day raking pine needles, limbing up trees or planting native vegetation that is less flammable.
Visit FireFree.org for 10 steps to reducing the risk of wildfire destroying your home.