Creating defensible space around your home can prevent catastrophic loss this fire season

Cal Fire crews conduct a live fire training exercise at Eastman Lake in Madera County in May 2021. As the weather warms and vegetation dries out, Cal Fire is encouraging homeowners to create defensible space around their properties that could make all the difference in avoiding a catastrophic loss this fire season. (Cal Fire)

With the month of May beginning this week, with its warmer weather, lower humidity and drying vegetation, Cal Fire is urging Bay Area homeowners to do all they can to protect against fire.

“Fires are mostly caused by the human factor,” said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Robert Carvalho. “For example, if a fire starts in someone’s back yard, it’s likely their lawn mower blade hit a rock and struck a spark.”

To help guard against this, Carvalho said it is best to mow the lawn before 10 a.m. Keeping the grass short is actually a good way to help minimize the risk of fire — just don’t mow when it’s hot out.

More tips on clearing vegetation: String trimmers are safer than lawnmowers. And when watering during times of drought, be sure to remove all dead or dying vegetation.

In addition to these tips, Cal Fire emphasizes that defensible space is one of the most important ways to protect a home against fire. Defensible space is the buffer between a structure and the surrounding area.

An example of defensible space around a residential property shows multiple zones a homeowner should consider when creating a buffer zone against potential wildfires. The dwelling should have at least 5 feet of perimeter space free of combustibles such as wood or dry vegetation that can be set ablaze by embers. (Cal Fire)

“No stacks of wood next to the home,” the battalion chief said.

The first five feet from the home is the most important, according to Cal Fire. Keeping the area closest to buildings, structures, and decks clear will prevent embers from igniting materials that can spread the fire to a home. The majority of homes lost to wildfire are ignited by flying embers.

More tips are available on the Cal Fire website.

While urging homeowners to prepare, the agency is doing the same.

Cal Fire is taking steps to get ready for the increased risk posed by warmer weather, the battalion chief said.

“Over the last couple weeks, our fire crews have been doing preparedness exercises, rehearsing working with hoses and hiking while wearing heavy fire gear,” Carvalho said.

The post Creating defensible space around your home can prevent catastrophic loss this fire season appeared first on Local News Matters.

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