The short answer: You might be if you live in what's called a wildland/urban interface zone.
In Oregon, for example, the Defensible Space Law enlists the aid of property owners to better protect their home and firefighters during encroaching wildfires. The law requires property owners to reduce excess vegetation that may fuel a fire around homes and other structures. In some cases, it's also necessary to create fire breaks along property lines and roadsides.
In areas with moderate risk or higher, Oregonians are asked to self-certify that they've taken protective measures. (Certification is done by mail and is good for five years.) It's not something to take lightly. Homeowners who don't comply could be charged for firefighting costs – up to $100,000 – if fire breaks out on their unprotected land.
Our best advice: If you're unsure what's required in your community, reach out to your local Department of Forestry, Department of Natural Resources or even your local fire district. And whether or not you're obligated to take protective measures, we urge you to follow Firewise techniques in making your property safer for you and your neighbors.
Watch for more in the coming weeks from PEMCO on reducing wildfire risks. We're all in this together.