Wildfires are usually triggered by lightning or accidents.They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, and homes.
This past summer there was the Yarnell Hill Fire
On June 28, 2013, a lightning storm ignited the Yarnell Hill Fire in the high desert northwest of Phoenix. Two days later, the brush fire that covered a few hundred acres exploded across 13 square miles. Hundreds of people fled from Yarnell, Glen Ilah and Peeples Valley as flames destroyed 127 homes. The Granite Mountain Hotshots, who had been hand-cutting firebreaks along the blaze’s flank, descended from a mountain ridge into a bowl where they became trapped. The 19 men deployed protective shelters but all were overcome by a wall of fire so hot it fractured boulders.
Before A Wildfire
- Mark the entrance to your property with address signs that are clearly visible from the road
- Keep lawns trimmed, leaves raked, and the roof and rain gutters free from debris such as dead limbs and leaves.
- Stack firewood at least 30 feet away from your residence
- Store flammable materials, liquids, and solvents in metal containers outside your residence at least 30 feet away from structures and wooden fences
- Thin trees and brush within 30 feet around your home. past 30 feet, remove dead wood, debris and low branches
- Consider landscaping your property with fire resistant plants and vegetation.
- Keep fire hydrants and other water sources (ponds, pools,wells)unobstructed for easy access for the fire department.
- Consider fire resistant roofing materials such as stone, brick and metal to help protect your home
- install multi-pane windows, tempered safety glass, or fireproof shutters to protect large windows
- Use fire resistant draperies
- Have chimmneys, wood stoves and heating systems cleaned and inspected annually
- Insulate chimmneys and place spark arresters on top. chimmneys should be 3 feet above the roof.
- Remove Branches that hang above and around chimmneys
Follow proper local procedures for burning debris to reduce risk of wildfire
During a wildfire
- Shut off gas at the main ( remember only a qualified technician can turn the gas back on)
- Seal attic and ground vents with precut plywood or comercial seals
- Turn off propane tanks
- Place combustible patio furniture inside
- Connect garden hose to outside taps. Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above ground fuel tanks.
- Wet the roof
- Wet of remove shrubs within 15 feet of residence
- Gather fire tools such as a rake, axe, handsaw,or chainsaw, bucket, and shovel
- Park your vehicle facing the escape path. Shut doors and roll up window. Leave the key in the ignition and doors unlocked. If in a garage, close doors and disconnect automatic door openers.
- Open fireplace dampener,close screens
- Close Windows, vents, doors, blinds, draperies. Remove flammable Drapes and curtains
- Move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors
- Close all interior doors and windows to prevent drafts
- Place valuable that will not be damaged by water or in a pool
If instructed to evacuate, do so immediately.
Have a plan ahead of time and a travel route. Have a BOL in mind before leaving. Keep your BOB by the door and ready to go. If moving through and area already in flames, wet clothing and and watch for falling trees and debris.
Remember if you have a safe or strongbox, do NOT try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled the contents could burst into flames.
A few years ago I was living in a remote area in Northern Arizona, a driver threw a cigarette but out of their car window. Within hours there was a wildfire burning through the forest. It took fire crews four months to finally put the fire out. Now a sparse wasteland borders the roads instead of lush pines and aspens. The fire spread across the forest floor pretty quickly catching all the deadwood and dried brush. The fire did not spread enough for us to evacuate, but we were told it was a possibility and prepared evacuation plans. With one road in an out if the fire blocked it we would all be trapped, It would also cut off our food supplies.
Size up the risk you are in and watch it as the seasons change. Then Prepare accordingly.
- Wildfire Prevention: Preparing Your Home (allstate.com)
- Lessons from Waldo Canyon: Wildfire Preparedness Tips for Denver Homeowners (local.allstate.com)
- Arizona Wildfire Engulfs 19 Firefighters, Audio Captures Final Moments (newday.blogs.cnn.com)
- 6 Tips to Protect Your Home From Wildfires (inhabitat.feedsportal.com)