Take Action Now to Protect Your Home from Wildfire

It may seem premature to plan for the upcoming fire season while there is still snow in some areas, but fire managers from New Mexico State Forestry, the Bureau of Land Management, and Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands are encouraging residents to take action now to help protect their homes in the event of a wildfire.

“When firefighters are responding to wildfire there is no guarantee a fire truck will be available to defend your home,” said State Forester Laura McCarthy. “Residents must take responsibility to reduce the amount of flammable vegetation around their homes to provide the greatest safety for their families, property, and the firefighters.”

We have learned from studying the aftermath of burned communities that it’s not the large flame front that burns homes down as often as the shower of embers that take hold during a wildfire.  Think of the area around and including your home as an ignition zone, susceptible to embers showering down.  Focus on the things that can ignite and spread fire to your home, and mitigate the danger by removing them.

Now is a good time to begin creating a defensible space.  This means creating a fire break around the home that is free of grass, shrubs, trees, and other flammable materials such as wood piles.  Starving an approaching wildfire of fuel helps decrease the fire’s intensity, improving the probability of a home surviving the burn.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Remove dead or dying branches from trees and shrubs.
  • Remove leaves and needles from the roof and gutters.
  • Trim tree branches that are hanging over the roof or chimney.
  • Place wood piles and other combustible materials at least 30 feet from the home.
  • Use only herbaceous plants, gravel or dirt within 5 feet of the foundation.
  • Clear vegetation from around propane tanks.
  • Mow your lawn on a regular basis.
  • Consider planting fire-resistant vegetation.
  • Prepare an evacuation plan with your family.

For more information, please visit http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SFD/FireMgt/FireProtectionHome.html

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