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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pro-Active Wildfire Protection - Part 3

Not every community is like our community where we have one way in and one way out and is in the mountains. We are also surrounded by National Forest and other wooded communities and wildfire can come from any direction. Wind changes direction in the  mountains and while gusting from one direction it can come from another direction instantly. All these add to the complications of protecting yourself from being a victim in a wildfire. I recall many years ago a fast moving wildfire in the San Luis valley sped toward the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The visitors and campers as the fire closed in on them ran  away from the oncoming fire in panic and the park rangers had some difficulty in getting them out on the sand dunes which wouldn't burn. Everyone was safe but in their panic they ran the wrong way fleeing into the trees. That is consistent with #4 in the link:, which is get to an area devoid of fuel if possible. Also #1, of that link is stay calm.

In case you are cut off and can't evacuate your home needs to be made as safe as it can be. We cut trees where there is distance between them, out 30-50' from the house and trim limbs 14-18' from the ground. We keep the weeds and grass mowed away from the house and store our firewood 70+ feet from the house. In addition our roof is metal, we have stone fascia on the exterior and a misting system for the only exposed wood which is our deck. Putting a sprinkler on the deck would drain the well in short order but a misting system would run for days if needed.

It is everyone's responsibility to protect their own home or property and procrastinating doing so will probably be to late. Getting a wildfire experts opinion is also a good idea. Our community doesn't have any area's where the fuel has been removed - like our many meadows, but we do have several lakes that could be utilized in an emergency. The area around our community center would be a good place to hunker down if the grasses were mowed, which they are not.

We believe our home would be relatively safe but many homes in our area are log homes that have a flammable coating of exterior sealer on them and trees close to the structure. Our house has been rated by two wildfire experts as being better than excellent for wildfire. In short they believe it would survive a wildfire and they had no suggestions to make it more safe. We are required to keep our propane tank hidden from sight and many use what is known as a coyote fence made of wood to hide theirs which is fuel. Ours is enclosed in a solid stone and mortar enclosure with a metal roof over it. There is no guarantee in a wildfire but we have taken all the needed steps to protect our home and property as best we can. Our survival plan has also been reviewed by experts and turned out to be identical to the survival plan they teach their firefighters.

All communities are different and individual situations within the community are different but taking steps outlined as in the link: and other on line links will help make your home safer in case of wildfire emergency. Wildfires are unpredictable and planning ahead to protect your home/property and yourself by formulating a plan and then carrying it out is vital to survival. A fast moving wildfire could cut you off and then is not the time to start with preventive measures.

The next and last segment is what happens if you evacuate and are kept from returning to your home for several days or weeks. Hopefully what we have done and had verified by experts on wildfire mitigation will help others to stay safer in case of wildfire. There are no guarantees of survival in a wildfire but taking proper measures ahead of time just may help improve your odds of surviving.


Sandy Williams said...

Thank you so much for this info .we will take and use it when we start our cabin in a few years from now ..Excited to get back this summer hope to pass you on the road ...How much snow is there now ..Sandy

Bruce said...

Sandy: You are welcome and our snow is miserably little this year. We need the moisture bad as everything is very dry. Lots of dry ground which is very unusual for this time of year.