Defensible Space Clean-up Really Will Help Save Homes

(Courtesy of Cal Fire)
More information about creating a defensible space can be found on the Cal Fire website at

    Just how effective is the time and money spent to create a defensible space against wildfire? There is no absolute answer, but fire science and the aftermath of fires tell us that hardened homes are safer.
    Chris Thompson, president of the Board of Directors of the Napa Communities Firewise Foundation, lives in Deer Park and on the day of the Glass fire he looked out his door and saw 100-foot flames about a quarter of a mile away.
    He said he took his family, including his 87-year-old mom and two kids, to a hotel and then returned to fight the fire as a volunteer fire fighter. Of the six homes next to his, only his and his neighbor’s home survived because they were the only two owners who had created a defensible space around their homes.
    It’s best to invest the time and money to clear your property properly. You can start at or join or start a Firewise group in your neighborhood. To find out more about Firewise in Orinda, contact Joyce Arnon at
    No one should start a fire inadvertently with efforts to prevent one. Thompson wrote a great blog entry on the Napa Communities Firewise Foundation website that is re-printed below.
    That website states that each year CAL FIRE responds to more than 1,600 fires started by Californians using equipment the wrong way. Whether working to create a defensible space around your home, just mowing the lawn, or pulling your dirt bike over to the side of the road, if you live in a wildland area you need to use all equipment responsibly. Lawnmowers, weed eaters, chain saws, grinders, welders, tractors and trimmers can all spark a wildland fire.
    The tips below will help you to take care of your property the right way:

• Do all yard maintenance that requires a gas or electric motor before 10 a.m. and not in the heat of the day or when the wind is blowing.
• Lawnmowers are designed to mow lawns. Never use lawn mowers on dry vegetation.
• Use a weed trimmer to cut down dry weeds and grass.
• Remove rocks in the area before you begin operating any equipment. A rock hidden in grass or weeds is enough to start a fire when struck by a metal blade.
• In wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable gasoline-powered equipment, including tractors, harvesters, chain saws, weed eaters, mowers, motorcycles and All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).
• Keep exhaust systems, spark arresters, and mowers in proper working order and free of carbon build-up. Use the recommended grade of fuel and don’t top the machine’s fuel off.
• Keep the engine free of oil and dust and keep the mower free of flammable materials.
• In wildland areas, a permit may be required for grinding and welding operations, and spark shields may be required on equipment. Be sure to have 10-feet of clearance, a 46 round point shovel and a back-pump water-type fire extinguisher ready to use.
• Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires you won’t even see until it’s too late. Don’t pull off into dry grass or brush.
• Keep a cell phone nearby and call 911 immediately in case of a fire.

For more information, tips and brochures, visit

For up-to-date data from government and research sources on wildfire statistics, please visit

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