Fire Preparations

With the hope of warmer weather comes the threat of wildfires.

At the front of fire prevention and protection for the majority of Douglas County is the Douglas Forest Protective Agency, DFPA.

The DFPA “provides fire protection for 1.6 million acres of public, private, county, state, Bureau of Land Management, or BLM and Bureau of Indian Affairs Lands,” according to DFPA Fire Prevention Specialist, Kyle Reed. Charts detailing fire data provided by Reed show that in 2017 the county endured a total of 100 fires, 80 of them were human caused. Out of the 1.6 million acres DFPA protects, humans caused 16,570 acres to burn in 2017. One of those is still under investigation.

With significantly less rain this year, fire season may start considerably earlier then June, according to Reed. Simply mowing the lawn at hours prohibited under the fire threat level, or not putting out a fire completely at a campsite are enough to set the land ablaze.

Reckless behavior can lead to the person or persons responsible being charged for all costs of restoration and restitution.
The majority of homes and land ignite from embers and small flames. According to the National Fire Protection Foundation, embers are considered “burning pieces of airborne wood and/or vegetation that can be carried more than a mile through the wind.”

Reed suggests some ways to fire proof a home found on the Firewise USA section of the National Fire Protection Foundation’s website.

Reed advises to find ways to create defensible space around the home and land in the “immediate zone” around the house. This zone is between 0 and 5 feet from the furthest exterior point of the home.

When clearing this area in preparation, renters and homeowners should start closest to the home. Cleaning roofs and gutters of any debris or dead vegetation can prevent embers from catching. Repairing or replacing loose window screens and putting up wire mesh is suggested for areas under patios and decks which collect the most combustible materials. Removing flammable and combustible materials is also advised.

Fire crew working on the Hubbard Creek fire 2017.

In the intermediate zone between 5 and 30 feet from the “furthest exterior point of the home,” Firewise USA advises cleaning vegetation from areas under large propane tanks and keeping grass cut at a height of no more than 4 inches. Firewise USA also suggests reducing ladder fuels. Ladder fuels are vegetation located under trees. Pruning trees 6 to 10 feet from the ground can keep a fire from climbing up the tree as if climbing a ladder. This ultimately helps create what is called defensible space.

The extended zone from 30 to 100 feet and even out to 200 feet around the exterior of the home is basically landscaping that can reduce rapid spread of a fire. According to Firewise USA, disposing of heavy accumulation of ground litter and debris is important. Removing dead plants, small shrubs and tree materials helps prevent the fuel ladders in areas further out from the home.

Fire extinguishers are very helpful as well.

The National Fire Protection Foundation advises to have an evacuation route set up and make sure all important documents are readily available.