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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Pro-Active Wildfire Protection Part 4

This is the last part of the four part series on wildfire protection and being pro-active. We have covered some techniques we have used at our house which we hope will make us safer in case of a wildfire, common sense clearing around your home and two web sites that are chock full of helpful tips of improving your survival if you are caught outside. It has been discussed that each community is unique and different and presents its own set of hazards. Each household in also unique with its challenges.

If you are in a community threatened by a wildfire and fortunate enough to evacuate what happens then. Chances are you will be kept out of the post fire area for several days or possibly even weeks. Who is watching your house should it survive while you are kept away until authorities feel it is safe for you to return? In a highly populated area it could be the National Guard or if a sizable police force that could keep looters out of the area.

In a less populated area like ours which has a very small presence of police probably no one is watching your house. Even if they wanted to it is doubtful that they have the resources or manpower to keep looters out. We have signs up that say "see something - say something". I have over the years called and never hear back from our law enforcement or even gotten an acknowledgement in most cases. In our area if our house survived it is likely it will be empty when we return due to looting.

In the past I was concerned with break-ins and went and met with the sheriff. I was told that the sheriff did not want to send deputies out unless it was a major felony. I was also told he suspected the break-in's were being perpetrated by residents within the community in which I agreed. We have a new sheriff now but I have not noticed any change in response. If not people inside our community it could just as likely be those outside our community who would come in following a wildfire uninhibited. In a community like ours looting could be just as serious as the wildfire or you could return home to find squatters in your home.

Being pro-active also means after the fact also. Often you are given only a few moments to evacuate and when you come home if your house is still standing but your contents are all gone what have you gained? Having a security system that will work during power outages may help identify those who are light fingered with other peoples property. You are generally told to leave your house unlocked so firefighters can make sure no one is inside. You might want to close your blinds and lock your doors just to make it harder for looters.

I would suggest that post wildfire looting would be prevalent in a community like ours and something to consider in your individual wildfire plan. Having good photos of contents would also be very handy.


Michael vasquez said...

Thank you Bruce for all of your wonderful insight. Just making mention of the possibility of a wildfire as made me aware that I was unprepared. I too have a cabin that has only one entrance road. From an aerial view my small neighborhood resembles a tree with branches on either side of a single trunk. I will be mentioning to a community board if we have an evacuation plan. Thank you for being proactive! However in looking at pictures of your cabin I have noticed a couple of trees both from the front and rear that appear to be closer than the 30-50 feet you mentioned.

Bruce said...

You are right Michael: Those are aspen trees and they are mostly water. They do not burn well unless they are dead and the branches are high enough and far enough from the house. When Aspen lose about 50% of their water content they start to lose their leafs and when they lose 80% they die. It is only after they are dead that they make good firewood. Aspen are a family and they all grow off the same root system. We have had live aspen blow over in a wind storm and we don't even try to deal with them until they have fully died. They are back breaking heavy with all the water content. Thank you for bringing this up as it is a variation that I should have explained. All of our aspen have had the limbs trimmed high and are not over 6" in diameter and not near combustible parts of the house. Your point is well taken & I hope I have explained the deviation in trees and why we don't cut the aspen.