Wildfire prevention measures start with landscaping
COLFAX – Whitman County homeowners may consider making changes to further protect their property through preventative landscaping.
“It will dry out much sooner than usual. Everyone should be extremely careful,” said Bill Tensfeld, Whitman County’s emergency management director. “We will have August conditions in mid-July. And we have irregular winds every day.”
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources recommends a minimum of 1.5 m between branches near a house, trees cut at least 3 m high to limit the ability of the fire to reach the canopy. “Beauty bark” should also be kept away from the house, as it can smolder.
Washington Public Land Commissioner Hilary Franz said there are a few things that all residents should be aware of.
“Given the destruction in Malden, the fire in Cold Springs … It’s important to create more defensible space around our communities,” said Franz. “Some houses were untouched because they took steps. They saw green grass, Trees did not hear the house and branches were cut back. “
The defensible space plays a role in fire fighting by fire departments.
“You have to measure the risk to the protection of the structure,” said Tensfeld. “If you have a good green lawn and defensible space, your fire resources will go further. Three houses with good defensible space, it takes X fire trucks to protect them. If not, it will take 23 fire trucks. You choose, what you can and cannot protect. “
In the case of the Malden fire, Tensfeld said there was no picking as it was a firestorm that required an evacuation operation.
Another point homeowners should consider is the location of their home.
A home surrounded by wood ideally needs a larger defensive area of at least a few hundred feet.
A house in a lens field would not use as much because of the lower “fuel” load for the fire and the minimal embers of a field fire.
Shrubs around a house are also of concern.
“Nice, but it’s a high risk of fire,” said Tensfeld.
For homeowners, Tensfeld notes one other thing to think about.
“If things get really bad, prepare to evacuate, take a list of items with you, or have a to-go bag,” she said. “Just a list, made when you have your mind, will make a difference.”