After the last few fire seasons, and seeing the devastation it caused to rural properties here in Western Oregon, we wanted to create a guide for landowners to protect their properties through fire readiness and fuel reduction. At Century Forest Management we paid close attention to the main causes of burning of homes and structures in these fires. In some instances, the wind was blowing so aggressively that not much could be done in the path of the flames but there are some preventative measures one can take to help lessen the chances of a total loss.
Keep vegetation away from the house. Shrubs, dead grass, and trees with low hanging limbs all need to be removed at least 100 feet from the house (more is always better). The dead grass acts like tinder which catches the shrubs ablaze then they move to the heavier fuels and up the tree the fire goes. Once in the tree, the embers will travel a greater distance, sending spot fires as far as the wind can push them.
If vegetation is desired around the house, be sure it is very green and very well-watered (utilize plants that hold a lot of water). Homes with a blanket of irrigated grass surrounding the home tend to have a better chance in a fire.
Keep roof and gutters free of material during fire season. Once an ember lands in a gutter filled with dry leaves/needles, there is probably little stopping that fire from getting into the roof and the rest is history. Another solid tip for rural living is when replacing the roof, strongly consider using a tin roof versus standard three-tab roofing. In burned areas, you can see that homes and structures with a tin roof had a much better chance of surviving the fire.
If the area around the home happens to be timber, thinning, limbing, and / or cutting a larger swath may be needed to keep the flames away from the home.
These are just some of the ways that homes and structures can be better protected by fire. There are exceptions to the rules due to aspect, geography, slope, and many other factors, but we hope this gives you some insight as to how to keep your home protected. The best way to help prevent a fire is to contact us, Century Forest Management, located in Monroe, Oregon, long before fire season for a free consultation. Every home is different, and we can help lessen the chances of the loss of your home or structures on your property.