If you haven’t yet started wildfire preparations like screening eave vents and reducing fuel loads on your land, now’s your chance, according to the National Interagency Fire Service. Mother Nature has gifted at least part of the Northwest a reprieve, with fire danger not set to reach “above normal” levels in central Washington and southwest Oregon until July. (Central Oregon, unfortunately, is already in “above normal” territory.)
Starting with your house and working outward toward your property line, take these 12 steps now to help your home better withstand fire threats later in the season:
How can I fortify my house against wildfire?
- Clean your gutters. Accumulated leaves and needles provide tinder for floating embers.
- Screen eave and foundation vents with 1/8-inch wire mesh to keep out blowing embers.
- Remove boards, debris and even wood-handled tools stashed under decks. Those materials can provide fuel for a fire that’s spreading along the ground. Once they’re gone …
- Screen under decks with 1/8-inch mesh. That prevents ignition from floating embers, the same as screening vents.
- Break up wood fences with metal gates. Fire can easily run along a wood fence, meaning your fence can give fire a pathway straight to your house. A metal gate or shield can interrupt the flames.
How can I safeguard my land against wildfire?
- Clear away fallen evergreen needles, woody debris and winterkill brush and grass. Keep grass mowed and watered within 30 feet of your home.
- Prune trees so the lowest branches – the foliage, not just where the branches attach to the trunk – are at least 15 feet high, and ensure no limbs come within 15 feet of your home. Eliminate “brush to branch” contact.
- Ensure tree crowns are spaced at least 20 feet apart.
- Mulch with pumice or gravel rather than combustible beauty bark. Consider firebreaks as part of the landscape – ornamental ponds, rocky “dry creek beds,” and graveled paths and driveways.
- Move firewood at least 30 feet away and uphill from any structure (uphill, since that’s the direction fire tends to burn).
- Clear vegetation away from propane tanks. Put down weed barrier and spread crushed gravel around the tank to create a 10-foot buffer against flame traveling along the ground.
- Make your property firefighter-friendly with your address visible from the street both day and night. Widen your driveway to at least 12 feet so a fire truck can get through.
To learn more, see our Wildfire Blog.
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