Wildfire home safety imperative during fire season

SPOKANE, Wash. - In the heat of fire season, fire crews are asking you to make sure your home is ready for the worst case scenario.

Homes in rural areas are especially at risk for wildfire because they are surrounded by dry fuel. These homes can decrease their risk by creating a buffer zone around their property.

Getting your property wildfire ready before it's too late can make all the difference.

“If the fuel runs into your home, it makes our job a lot more difficult,” said Mike Risley, Prevention Lieutenant at Spokane County Fire District 10.

That fuel is dry vegetation which surrounds many rural homes. A buffer around any structure can greatly increase its chance of survival.

“We have two zones, one of which is 0 to 30 feet, and the other is 30 feet to 70 feet,” said Risley.

Zone 1 deals with the home itself. This zone extends 30 feet in all directions from a structure. Landscape in this area needs to be fire wise. This means cleaning your gutters, cleaning your roof, and trimming your hedges. Risley recommends hardscapes.

Dry grass will burn, so keep things green. And plant trees at least 30 feet away from your home.

“Trees are a huge threat,” said Risley. “It starts on the ground, typically. Once it runs along what we call the light flashy fuels, they've very easy to ignite.”

Trees belong in Zone 2, which is 30 to 70 feet away from a home. This is also where firewood should be stored. In some cases, the fire safety extends beyond those two zones. It's important to make sure fire crews have easy access to you property.

“You have to have a maintained driveway if you're off the county road,” said Risley. “If you're going to have security gates, get ahold of us,” said someone. “Get us either a key or a code and that will save you a lot of hassle and get us in there a lot quicker.”

If you are concerned about your property, many local fire stations will come and assess your home. You just need to schedule a visit. For more safety tips, visit www.dnr.wa.gov/firewise.