Warmer weather has brought unusually dry conditions to Oregon this year. Dry conditions lead to tinder-dry, fire-ripe vegetation. And that means that homeowners need to take immediate action to protect their lives, homes, and property.
Mary Ellen Holly, President and CEO of the Keep Oregon Green Association, advises those who live within the “Wildland Urban Interface” or those areas where houses are intermixed with trees, should begin by removing the dead and dying material that may have accumulated around the home. “Remove the ‘ladder fuels’ or those shrubs and small trees that would carry ground fire into the tops of trees,” she advised, “and then rake any dry grass.”
“Removing the leaves and needles in gutters is a great preventative step,” Holly stated. “But another important one is to prune any tree branches that hang over the roof. A spark arrestor on the chimney is required.”
Holly continued by explaining there are now more homes in the Interface than there are resources to protect them. “Defensible space” gives the home a greater chance of survival should a wildfire ignite.”
While there should be a clear space of at least three feet around the home, shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas, daphne, grapeholly, and spirea are more fire resistive and can be planted in mosaic patterns throughout the yard. “We don’t want them to have to change that wonderful environment in which they wish to live,” Holly noted. “But they need to provide breaks in the vegetation to keep fire from spreading, keep the plants and grass pruned, watered, and green, and keep firewood and propane tanks uphill and 30 feet away from the home. With a few days’ work, residents can breathe much easier knowing they have done what they can to protect themselves against wildfire.”