If you have lived in the Pacific Northwest for any length of time you have probably heard people talk about fire season, but maybe not heard how you can help protect your home and property through the management of defensible space. As fire season seems to get longer every year, and as it rapidly approaches with the coming of warmer weather, it is important to know what you can do to help.
Defensible Space: The area between a house and oncoming wildfire that slows the fire and provides an opportunity for firefighters to protect your home.
So how can you create this space? We typically approach defensible space in zones, with the zones closer to the home having less trees and plant life versus a wider radius from the home.
Zone 1: 0-5ft from the home. This is your noncombustible zone. The use of fire resistant materials for building, fire resistant ground cover, and keeping shrubs pruned back from the house are you best factors here.
Zone 2: 5-30ft from the home. Also known as the intermediate zone, this is where most homes in Central Oregon fall into danger, especially on smaller lots. Trees should be planted no closer than 30ft to the home with crowns separated by 18ft on flat ground, further apart on sloping properties. Limbs need to be pruned back at least 10ft from structures, and 6 to 10ft from the ground to reduce fire fuel and speed of travel.
Zone 3: 30-100ft from the home. At this distance it is important to keep any vegetation away from outbuildings and to properly maintain space between mature canopies. Canopies should have a 6-12ft space between them to help prevent fire from running through a close canopy.
So how can we help you create your defensible space and protect your home and your family? Largely through proper pruning and occasionally removal of trees that are too close to a structure. With the large number of ponderosa pine, elm, and juniper in Central Oregon we also see a lot of trees full of dead limbs. These limbs are like matchsticks waiting to light off and once lit pine sap from the live section of the tree loves to burn. Deschutes County has great resources for information on how to prevent accidentally starting a human caused fire, as well as resources for communities and Home Owners Associations looking to improve the defensible space of their neighborhoods. As well as annual Fire Free events for disposal of yards debris such as pine needles and trimmings. We would love to partner with you to aide in the protection of your home.