Eastside Fire & Rescue urges residents to prevent urban wildfires

August 14, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 4 p.m. Aug. 14, 2012

The risk of wildfire is not limited to communities east of the Cascades.

In recent weeks, Eastside Fire & Rescue and other nearby fire departments responded to small brush fires along highways and other roads, neighborhood greenbelts and parks.

Protecting a home from urban brush fires is the homeowner’s responsibility.

Homeowners can take several safety precautions to create a defensible space around a residence. EFR reminds residents to consider topography, nearby vegetation and a home’s fire resistance.

The agency offers tips for homeowners to create a defensible space:

  • Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation and remove vines from walls of the home, and remove rubbish from around the structure. Mow grass regularly.
  • Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground. Thinning is simply reducing the density of vegetation between trees in a yard. Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
  • Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
  • Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and barbeques. Place a screen over the grill using nonflammable material with mesh no coarser than ¼-inch.
  • Regularly dispose of newspapers and other flammable materials to appropriate sites.
  • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket, soak in water for two days and then bury the cold ashes in mineral soil.
  • Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans that can be purchased at the hardware store. Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.
  • Stack firewood at least 50 feet away and uphill from a home. Clear combustible material within 20 feet. Use only UL-approved wood burning devices.
  • Create a 30-foot safety zone around a home. Keep the volume of vegetation in this zone to a minimum. The greater the distance between a home and vegetation, the greater the protection.
  • Remove debris on rooftops, in gutters, and under sun decks and porches.
  • Enclose eaves and overhangs. Like porches and balconies, eaves trap the heat rising along the exterior siding. Enclose all eaves to reduce the hazard.
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