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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Protecting Your Space from Wildfire: Tips for Central Oregonians

6/30/2022 (Permalink)

In addition to barbeques, hikes, and floats in the Deschutes, comes the substantial risk of wildfires every summer. And while their permeation of our summertime air is a relatively recent occurrence compared to our area’s logging history, it is a danger nonetheless. 

Wildfires are an ecological process designed to keep our forests healthy. As homes creep closer to our forests, the risk of fire damage to homes substantially increases. According to the Deschutes County Wildfire Mitigation Report, 96 percent of Deschutes County's land is located in a fire hazard area. And as the risk for fire damage increases, the need for fire damage prevention measures becomes more critical. 

How is Wildfire Prevented?

Central Oregonians know the phrase “prescribed burn,” which the Forest Service manages to benefit natural resources and reduce the risk of unwanted wildfires in the future. These burns maintain the health of a forest by removing dead leaves, limbs, and other debris. By clearing the land, the prescribed burn helps prevent a wildfire. 

But as we know, they don’t provide a 100 percent guarantee against wildfires from occurring. It is up to our Central Oregon homeowners to ensure their property is fire-safe. One of the best ways to achieve this is to create a defensible space.

What is a Defensible Space?

A defensible space is a virtual bubble surrounding the home where burnable material (fuel) is minimized. According to the OSU Extension Service, in the event of a wildfire, defensible spaces allow firefighters to safely defend homes and other structures while severing a direct pathway from a fire to a home. 

How to Create a Defensible Space?

To create a defensible space, you must reduce flammable vegetation and other fuels around the home. There are different zones; what you do for each zone depends on the distance to the house. 

Zone 0 - extends 0-5 feet from the structure. 

Zone 1-  extends 30 feet from the structure. 

Zone 2 - extends 30-100 feet from buildings.

Some examples of creating a defensible space include:

  • Removing dead plant materials, such as leaves and dry mulch) that accumulates on the ground surrounding your home and in the gutters. 
  • Removing or trimming limbs that overhang the home, so they are no closer than 10 feet from the roof or siding.
  • Replacing mulch with rocks or other nonflammable material within 10 feet of the home.
  • Storing firewood and lumber at least 10 feet from the home. 
  • Limiting plants surrounding the home to low-growing, non-woody, and adequately watered species.
  • Cutting grass to no higher than 4 inches. 
  • Use fire-resistant plants that are native to Central Oregon.

If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the steps outlined above can help make a significant difference should a wildfire spread near your home. Take the time to protect your biggest asset now; you’ll be glad you did.

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