Fire is a natural element in forest ecosystems. Today, more people are taking up residence in the forests and rangelands - and thus becoming part of the wildland/urban interface - where the urban environment meets the wild. Residents living in wild land/urban interface areas should be aware of the danger of wildfire and prepare accordingly.
There are basically three ways that structure fires ignite from forest fires:
- When fire reaches such intense radiant heat that a nearby combustible starts burning.
- When the fire burns right to an object or right to the structure, causing the flames to directly touch and ignite something that will burn.
- When fiery embers, also known as firebrands, fly through the air and land on the structure or combustibles, starting a fire.
The Home Ignition Zone (HIZ)
The HIZ includes your home and the immediate area surrounding your home, up to 200' from the home depending on terrain and vegetation. Keeping your HIZ as fire-safe as possible will reduce the chance that your home will ignite during a wildfire.
- Replace wood shake roofs with non-flammable roofing material.
- Remove leaves and needles from gutters, roofs and decks.
- Remove tree limbs that hang over the roof.
- Keep decks free of flammable lawn furniture, door mats, etc.
- Screen vents and areas under decks with 1/8" metal mesh to keep embers from getting in your house.
- Store firewood in a safe location - at least 30 feet away from your home and deck.
Within 30 Feet of Your Home:
- Maintain 30 feet around your home - lean, green and clean. Remove dead vegetation and keep dry grass trimmed to 4 inches tall.
- Plants directly near the home should be carefully chosen (ideally they should be of a fire-resistant nature) and maintained (well-watered andfree of dead materials that could ignite during a wildfire).
- Flammable brush Uuniper, for example) should be removed.
Within 100 Feet of Your Home:
- Remove dead plants and brush.
- Remove low branches from trees and shrubs.
- Mow grass to 6 inches.
- Tree crowns should be spaced 10-15 feet apart to avoid dangerous crown fires.
- Driveways leading to the home should also be clear of heavy vegetation on either side and should be wide enough to accommodate fire-suppression vehicles and personnel.