SALEM, Ore. – During the month of May, the Oregon State Fire Marshal is asking Oregonians to take part in Wildfire Awareness Month by creating defensible space around their homes. This zone gives your home added protection against wildfire. Defensible space can prevent embers from igniting your home or prevent flames from reaching it. Another important advantage of defensible space is it creates a safe space for firefighters to work during a wildfire.
Creating defensible space can seem like a daunting task for some homeowners, but tackling one project at a time over the course of Wildfire Awareness Month can make all the difference. Oregonians should tackle defensible space projects now before the heat of summer arrives.
“Pick a project to complete this weekend; maybe it is making sure your gutters are clear of needles and leaves. Next weekend, limb your trees to ensure flames can’t reach the lower branches,” Oregon State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said. “Simple steps over time can culminate into added protection against a wildfire.”
Start with a plan. Walk around your home and identify areas where an ember could land and ignite. Look at the base of your home and work outward. Studies show the leading cause of home fires during a wildfire is embers igniting combustible materials, spreading fire to the house.
Consider the following defensible space projects at your home:
- Space and prune trees. (see linked diagram)
- Remove leaves, needles, wood, bark mulch, and other debris from within 100 feet of the structure or to the property line.
- Keep roofs and gutters clean of leaves, needles, and other debris.
- Move flammable material away from the outside of your home, including mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, and firewood piles.
- Keep flammable or tall plants from growing directly under the eaves; a minimum of five feet away is recommended.
- Keep firewood piles and lumber at least 30 feet from any structure.
- Keep plants in your yard healthy and maintained. Clean out old leaves or pine needles from your plants. Prune away any dead portions.
One home with defensible space gives added protection against wildfire for that single home. When neighbors create defensible space as a community, protection increases exponentially for everyone involved. To learn more about creating defensible space as a community, read about the Firewise USA program here.
For more information, visit the OSFM Wildfire Awareness Month page.