Chief's ReportMark Jokerst
January and February seem to be months where we catch our breath: big projects go on hold for a too short while as we look back on one year and forward to the next. However, looking forward to the coming summer is getting grimmer by the day. Unless the heavens open up in March/April and soak us good, we're looking at dry creeks, very dry vegetation and high fire danger. Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst: Let's look at some smart preparations around the home that you can do to minimize fire danger.
Remember: The fire you are preparing for could be a mile or two away. You may picture this incredible wall of flame approaching your homestead (and you should!); but the likely scenario is a more distant fire sending burning embers aloft that fall around your home like burning snowflakes. Yes, they land still burning and will start their own fires. These embers like to collect, eddied by wind currents, into little piles. Those little piles can burn your house down. So let's get to work:
- Clear all burnable vegetation and litter at least 30 feet away around all your structures (state law).
- Thin burnable vegetation at least 100 feet around all structures (state law). Thin burnable vegetation more like 300-400 feet around all structures (more realistic).Clear out all burnable stuff under the deck.Look for places embers will eddy into piles and clear them of burnable stuff!In May, clean roof and gutters of pine needles , etc.Move that wood pile away from the house.Put screens on all crawlspaces, vents, and attic vents. Keep flying embers out of concealed spaces, but don't plug the vents either!Get some hoses and nozzles and have them ready around all your structures.Get 2500 gallons of stored water and a gas-fired trash pump.
A word about brush and timber: Break up the continuity. Limb trees at least six feet above the ground, so fire won't spread from ground to tree. Cut the brush to create spaces between bushes, lots of spaces. Don't cut all the brush, but break up the continuous patches; they are just long pathways for fire to advance.
We'd love to come to your place and help guide your efforts. What to cut and what to save isn't obvious to everyone; we can come to your aid to put some good, experiential sense into your fire safe plan.
A final word, then 'nuff preaching for one day: Wind. Watch the wind. If it's windy, don't burn. Please.