It’s Wildfire Season. Think ‘Fire Prevention’ When Maintaining Your Property
It’s wildfire season again in Central Oregon – a reality that few people are eager to deal with less than a year after we saw more area burned in the Oregon Cascades than any of the previous 36 years combined.
The Labor Day wildfires of 2020 may have affected more land in and around the Oregon Cascades than any single wildfire season over the last 120 years. And, the devastation wasn’t limited to isolated wilderness land. The fires damaged more than 4,000 structures (including homes) and led to more than 10% of the state’s residents experiencing some level of evacuation advisory.
Yes, last year’s wildfire season was one for the history books.
For homeowners specifically, we at SERVPRO of Bend believe such recent events can also serve as a great reminder of why it’s essential to always think of “fire prevention” when maintaining your home and property. These efforts include such considerations as using non-combustible building materials whenever possible and creating a defensible space around your home.
Keep reading to learn what you can do today and in the future to help keep your home safe in the event there’s a wildfire in your area.
What is a Defensible Space?
One of the best things a homeowner can do to prevent wildfires from spreading to their homes (or vice-versa, a home fire spreading into surrounding land) is to create a “bubble” around the house where burnable material, or fuel, is kept to a minimum.
This area is called defensible space.
“To help your home survive a wildfire, create defensible space between your home and its surroundings by 100 feet or more,” states the document “Keeping Your Home and Property Safe from Wildfire,” which was created by the Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service.
According to the OSU Extension Service, in the event of a wildfire, defensible spaces allow firefighters to safely defend your home and other structures while breaking up a direct pathway from the fire to your home.
The primary way to create such a space is to reduce flammable vegetation and other fuels around the home. Regularly remove dead plant material (i.e., leaves, needles, twigs, dry mulch, and woodpiles) that accumulates along the ground and in your gutters, and trim back overhanging limbs by at least 10 feet from the roof and siding.
Keep your property “lean and green” as you extend away from the house, working to incorporate fire-resistant plants into the landscape. These options include various types of plants, from trees and shrubs to annuals and perennials. (OSU Extension Service offers a 48-page guide to fire-resistant plants that you can download here.)
Other Fire-Safe Considerations
Besides creating a defensible space, other fire-resistant considerations can be made when building, remodeling, or even simply replacing features of your home. These include:
Roof & Siding: Always consider combustibility when building or replacing your roof or siding. Avoid using easily combustible material, such as cedar shakes, which, while attractive, can act as kindling when dry.
Patios & Decks: These outdoor spaces can also serve as fuel when a wildfire’s close. Ideally, for fire prevention, these spaces will be made from concrete or first-resistant composites. Wood decking is fine so long as it’s been treated against fire.
Screen Entry Points: Homes typically have several low-key entry points, such as vents or chimneys, that can be susceptible to flying embers. Be sure to screen these areas with 1/8th- to 1/4th-inch wire mesh to prevent flaming materials from finding their way into your home. Do NOT use nylon window screens as they can quickly melt.
What If I Get Fire or Smoke Damage?
Despite these efforts at keeping wildfires at bay and away from your property, it’s still possible your home may sustain fire, soot, and smoke damage if a wildfire finds its way into your area or neighborhood.
Should this happen, SERVPRO of Bend is there to respond quickly to your needs. After all. Immediate action and fast response can limit damage, prevent further damage and reduce restoration costs.
If you’ve experienced the misfortune of fire, soot, or smoke damage, contact us today. Our 24/7 emergency services are available by calling us at (541) 385-7044. Our highly trained fire restoration technicians will be there to help you!