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How to create a defensible space and protect your home from wildfires

In 2020 there were over 2,000 wildfires in Oregon that destroyed over a million acres of land and over 3,000 homes. Every year our communities are devastated by wildfires and many people lose their homes. Homeowners can feel helpless when a wildfire breaks out and feel like there is nothing they can do to save their home. Uncontrolled wildfires are inevitable but losing your home doesn't have to be. Homeowners have a great opportunity to prevent their homes from igniting during a wildfire. Your home can survive a wildfire!

You don't have to control a wildfire to protect your home, you just need to create a defensible space around your home. There are a lot of little things you can do to your home and the surrounding area to protect your home during a wildfire. Creating a defensible space starts with assessing your property before the fires start. When assessing your property, you want to note anything that can ignite from a flying ember. This includes dried leaves and pine needles, bark mulch, flammable patio furniture and decorations too close to the house, dead plants/vegetation, and stacks of firewood. We at Basin Family Tree Care, LLC want to help you create a defensible space for your home so we put together this guide to help you. Creating a defensible space cannot only save your home in the event of a wildfire, but it can also help keep wildland firefighters safe.

How to create a defensible space

Zone 1: immediate zone (RED)

There are three different zones of defensible space surrounding your home. Zone 1 is the first 0-5 feet surrounding your home. This zone is your non-combustible area, you want to make sure there are no flammable or combustible materials in this zone. You will want to start with the house itself, try to choose fire resistant materials when building/ remodeling your home. Use fire resistant materials for your roofing, siding, and patios. Keep flammable materials such as mulch, leaves, firewood piles, and flammable plants away from exterior walls. Even something as simple as a wooden broom leaning against the house can ignite a fire. Clear debris from exterior attic vents and install fine metal mesh over openings to prevent flying embers from getting in your attic. Keep roofs and gutters clean of leaves and other debris that can catch fire and use crushed rocks instead of mulch around the house.

Zone 2: intermediate zone (ORANGE)

Zone 2 is the intermediate zone and it includes the area that is 5ft-30ft surrounding the exterior of the home. In this zone you will want to create landscaping designs and breaks that will help influence and decrease fire behavior. You can create fire breaks with driveways, lawns, cement paths and patios. Trees should be planted where the canopy is at least 10 feet away from structures and should be pruned to remove any dead or dying branches. Multiple trees planted in this zone should have a space of about 18 feet between canopies. Vegetation should be removed beneath trees and trees should be crown raised 6 to 10 feet above the ground. Trees and shrubs in this zone should be limited to small clusters and lawns and native grasses should be mowed to a height of 4 inches.

Zone 3: extended Zone (GREEN)

Zone 3 consists of the area 30ft to 100ft and up to 200ft surrounding the exterior of your home. The goal of this zone is to not eliminate fire but to disrupt its path and keep flames small and on the ground. In this zone you want to focus on removing heavy leaf litter and remove any dead trees and shrubs. You will also want to thin out trees by removing any small conifer trees growing between large mature trees. You should also remove vegetation located near sheds and other out buildings. Trees planted 30ft-60ft from the home should have at least 12ft space between canopies and trees located 60ft-100ft should have at least 6ft.

Preparing your home for fire season can be overwhelming, but Basin Family Tree Care can help you get your property fire ready. We can help you assess your property for fire hazards, and we can make sure your trees are properly spaced and pruned. We can even help with removing heavy leaf litter and brush piles! Call us today at 541-851-9080 for a free estimate and fire abatement assessment. Make sure your home is protected this fire season and be ready before the fires start.

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