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Tips During Wildfire Awareness Week
Wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes: Thoughtful planning can minimize the impact whenever these natural disasters occur. And in the case of wildfires, homeowners often can avert damage entirely by following some basic steps to protect their home and property.
During Oregon Wildfire Awareness Week now through May 11th, fire protection agencies will be sending that message to Oregonians most at risk from wildfire – those who dwell in the wildland-urban interface. It’s not just for the few of us that live deep in the forest. People at risk from wildfire are also those in suburban subdivisions located near a stand of timber. Landscaping can beautify a home and also reduce the fire threat. There are two key things to remember: spacing, and species. Planting trees and shrubs with enough distance between them can hinder a wildfire from burning through the vegetation and reaching the home. Once planted, the trees and shrubs must be maintained by periodic trimming and pruning. A well-watered lawn mowed short also strengthens the barrier to fire.
Some shrubs, in addition to being attractive, also resist fire. Oregon State University Extension publishes “Fire-Resistant Plants for Home Landscapes” available free at: http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/20921/%2apnw590.pdf Fire-resistant plants are those that do not readily ignite from a flame or other ignition source. These plants can be damaged or even killed by fire. But their foliage and stems do not significantly contribute to the fuel and, therefore, the fire’s intensity. Fire-resistant plant species must be watered and kept trimmed to maximize the buffer effect against a wildfire. Many have the advantage of requiring less care than common ornamentals.
In preparing for the arrival of warm, dry weather, the most important thing is to get into the fire season mode. From late spring through early fall, Oregonians live in a wildfire environment. Whenever we work or play in the outdoors during this time, fire safety must be foremost in our minds. For helpful tips on wildfire safety at home and in the forest, visit the Keep Oregon Green Association website, www.keeporegongreen.org/. Another resource is the Firewise Toolkit, www.firewise.org/information/firewise-toolkit.aspx