KENNEWICK, Wash. --A good way to keep your home safe from wildfires is to "Green Belt" it. Benton County Fire District One Deputy Chief , Mike Harris says doing so makes homes "defendable" if anything were to catch fire nearby.
Green belting refers to taking steps to add green to surround your home within 30 ft., so that firefighters can have a chance to save it. Things like clearing out dead debris and planting a lawn or field to separate your home from a dead brush field.
"Make sure there is a 30 foot clearance around all their homes. that includes wood piles, dead debris, dead grass and brush. plant grass or have something that is wet. or it can be wet down, have a lawn or something with that defendable space. it keeps the fire from making a run up the back of the home," says Harris.
Most homes that burn during a wildfire are ignited by embers or firebrands landing on the roof, in gutters, on or under decks and porches, or in vents or other openings in the home. Other homes burn from small flames (surface fire) that can touch the house - such as dry grass that can allow a fire to run right up to the siding. That's why Firewise principles recommend starting with your home and working your way out into the landscape.
The website www.firewise.org recommends you make sure you have a nonflammable roof covering. Your roof is the most vulnerable spot for embers that blow in and collect.
Clean out gutters and downspouts of debris and leaves. Keep the surface and area beneath decks and porches free of debris and leaves.
Maintain a 3-to-5-foot space around your house and all attachments that is "fuel free" - no flammable mulch, woodpiles, or plants that can allow fire to touch the house.
Screen vents with metal mesh; if possible, replace large windows with double paned or tempered glass to resist breakage during a fire. Of course, large flames can and will ignite your home if they are close enough to the house. Ensure that trees and shrubs within the first 30 feet of your home are healthy, spaced apart, and not overhanging the house.
If your home is on a slope, thin out vegetation to a further distance (50 to 100 feet) to slow fire's spread as it approaches uphill. For more information and tips, click here.