Build a green space around your home to defend it from wildfires

Build a green space around your home to defend it from wildfires

SPOKANE, Wash. - The possibility of more lightning caused fires should have people living in rural areas thinking about defensible space.

In Kevin Dixon's backyard down in the Latah Creek area a sprinkler stands ready to wet down a 30 foot barrier. All summer long he's kept the natural vegetation green so he can snuff out an advancing wildfire. It's called a green space, a broad border of grass, flowers and even leafy vegetables designed to keep a wildfire from reaching his home.

"I have also installed additional watering over the side here so that I have a 100 foot buffer zone for protected space and many of the neighbors have also done the same thing," he said.

Dixon, a Massachusetts native, knows the canyon he lives in has been hit by wildfires for years so he's prepared not for "if" but for "when" the next fire hits.

After looking at the damage done to home after home in places like Pateros, pooling your brush clearing resources with your neighbors may be the way to go, like a Block Watch for fires.

"He's not just an island of green here. The community as a whole has joined with him and together they have made this a firewise community. It's defensible space around every home," Jim Armstrong with the Spokane Conservation District said.

That includes limbing up the ladder fuels that can carry fire into the tree tops and thinning out overgrown vegetation. Flames need fuel to move around and now's the time cut down the brush that give fires their mobility.

"It really is important for people to understand, they're going to be on their own for the most part and their first line of defense it the defensible space around their house," Armstrong said.