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Protecting your home in fire-dependent areas

The proof of human-caused climate change is indisputable, especially this year. Global warming has been a normal occurrence throughout time. However, it is escalating at a rate in which the outcome is unknown, and the result won't benefit the human race.

"Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal," states the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. NASA confirms that, "The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit and the majority of the warming has occurred in the past 40 years. The years 2016 and 2020 are tied for the warmest year on record." The citizens of this world must take action immediately to counteract our previous actions.

click image JEFF HEAD / FLICKR
  • Jeff Head / Flickr

Multiple wildfires are already burning in the Central Oregon area, and with the extremely warm temps and current state of drought, there will unfortunately be more. With memories of Paradise, California, and the devastating Santiam fire which incinerated communities whole, how can Central Oregon homeowners prepare for the worst?

Fortunately, dozens of communities here have been working hard to make their neighborhoods less susceptible to wildfire and are participating in the Firewise USA program. Firewise communities are those that have taken appropriate measures to become more resistant to wildfire structural damage. Being Firewise is the ability to live safely near a fire-dependent natural ecosystem. This mostly refers to more rural areas with considerable space between homes, and depends on the use of Firewise principles to protect homes, including landscape design and vegetation management.


Make sure the roofing is a Class A, fire-rated material, like standing seam metal roof, tile, slate or cementitious composite. If there are wood shakes, a fire treatment needs to be applied about every five years. The steeper the roof the better as embers roll off of a steep roof pitch but remain on flatter pitches. Always make sure to keep gutters clean of debris, which could be fuel with a stray ember.


It's essential to use non-flammable materials, such as fiber-cement lap or panel siding, stucco, brick or cultured stones and install 1/8th inch wire screen below decks and other critical areas to seal all the gaps and entry points where embers could enter.

Perimeter Defenses

The best way to prevent a fire from burning your home is to keep it as far away as possible. This includes clearing the surrounding areas of dead vegetation, propane tanks, stacks of firewood, etc. It's recommended to keep flammable materials a minimum of 20 to 30 feet away from a home. This can all be done in an attractive manner through Firewise landscaping techniques. Create a defensible barrier around the home using hardscape, lawns and responsible tree management. Driveways, walkways and gravel beds can all be used to make a firebreak buffer around the home, establishing space between the home and path of the fire.

Implementing these suggestions, voicing thoughts at neighborhood meetings and letting the politicians know about serious concerns with wildfires can all help in creating safer summers in the future.

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