Protecting your home from wildfire

Fire burns across a night landscape. The fire is burning in the ground-level brush beneath taller evergreen trees, as firefighters and vehicles are staged along the fireline.

PORTLAND, Ore. – July 26, 2018 – Seasonal fire is part of our landscape in the Pacific Northwest – and with fire season arriving, residents and communities can make their homes safer from wildfire by reducing flammable materials and creating more defensible space around their property.

These ten Firewise safety tips can help firefighters and protect homes and neighborhoods from wildfires:

  • Clear leaves and other debris from roofs, gutters, porches and decks. This helps prevent embers from igniting near your home.
  • Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch.
  • Screen in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
  • Remove flammable materials (wood piles, propane tanks) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds.
  • Wildfire can spread to tree tops. Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet from the ground.
  • Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, cut it down to reduce fire intensity. Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire.
  • Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
  • Inspect shingles or roof tiles. Replace or repair the shingles that are loose or missing to prevent ember penetration.
  • Cover exterior attic vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to prevent sparks from entering the home.
  • Enclose eaves and screen soffit vents using 1/8 mesh metal screening to prevent ember entry.

With more people living in areas where wildfires pose a risk, efforts to create more defensible space helps property owners and communities be more prepared and resilient. Homes that have been well-prepared are much less likely to catch fire when wildfires burn nearby.

The Firewise Communities Program encourages local solutions for safety by involving homeowners to prepare their homes from the risk of wildfire. The program provides resources to help homeowners learn how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together to take action now to prevent losses.

Additional information and materials are available at www.firewise.org.

USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region staff

Illustration depicts the Firewise tips discussed in the caption.

Are you Firewise? You can protect your home from wildfire by keeping your chimney cleaned and screened, maintaining at least 100 feet of garden hose attached to your house at all times, spacing trees located close to your home apart, and moving storage sheds, fuel tanks, wood piles and other burnable materials at least 30 feet from your home and other structures. Mow vegetation growing within 100 feet of your home; thin and prune coniferous trees, and ensure your driveway is accessible and address visible from the road. Lastly, avoid burning trash and brush at home – recycle or compost whenever you can.

Fire and smoke rise above a forested ridgeline, with structures and grazing alpaca in the foreground.

Fire is visible along a ridge behind structures during the Biscuit Fire in this 2002 USDA Forest Service photo. The fire, named for Biscuit Creek, burned nearly 500,000 acres on and around the Siskiyou National Forest (now part of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest) in south-east Oregon.

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