Make Your Home and Property Fire Safe
Defensible space is essential to improve your home's chance of surviving a wildfire. It's the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs or any wildland area that surrounds it. This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire - either from direct flame contact or radiant heat. Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home.
Why 100 Feet?
A Defensible Space of 100 feet around your home is required by law. Following a few simple steps can dramatically increase the chance of your home surviving a wildfire.
The Home Ignition Zone (Zone1)
Clearing an area of 30 feet immediately surrounding your home is critical. This area requires the greatest reduction in flammable vegetation. Creating and maintaining this Home Ignition Zone reduces or eliminates ignition hazards presented by vegetation- by thinning or spacing, removing dead leaves and needles, and pruning shrubs and tree branches.
Within the Home Ignition Zone remove flammable plants that contain resins, oils, and waxes that burn readily: ornamental Junipers, Rosemary, Paupon, Holly, Red Cedar, and young Pine. Remember, although mulch does help retain soil moisture, mulch and other landscape materials can become flammable when too dry.
Reduced Fuel Zone (Zone 2)
The fuel reduction zone in the remaining 70 feet (or to property line) will depend on the steepness of your property and the vegetation. Spacing between plants improves the chance of stopping a wildfire before it destroys your home. You have two options:
- Create horizontal and vertical spacing between plants. The amount of space will depend on how steep the slope is and the size of the plants. The steeper the slope the more space needed.
- Large trees do not have to be cut and removed as long as all of the plants beneath them are removed. This eliminates a vertical "fire ladder". Prune large trees so that the lowest branches are at least 6 to 10 feet high to prevent a fire on the ground from spreading to the tree tops.
Pacific Gas and Electreic can help to remove dead and dying trees close to powerlines since they pose a risk of falling on the lines causing a power outtage. Contact PG&E at 800-743-5000 and visit pge.com/mindthelines for more information.
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Flames will reach up to three times higher than the vegetation itself; 2' high weeds can easily have flames to 6' high!
When clearing vegetation, use care when operating equipment such as lawnmowers. One small spark may start a fire. A string trimmer is much safer. Restrict such clearing to the mornings where the humidity is higher and ignition is reduced.
Remove all build-up of needles and leaves from your roof and gutters. Keep tree limbs trimmed at least 10 feet from any chimney and remove dead limbs that hang over your home or garage. The law also requires a screen over your chimney outlet of not more than 1/2 inch mesh.
Check out this video compairing two adjacent properties, one cleared and one not.
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